Return to Transcripts main page


Protests Continue in Syria; Another Head Rolls at FIFA; Preview of "Nepal's Stolen Children"; Greece Divided; Hollywood, Northern Ireland's New Celebrity; The Next Generation of Golf Champs; Connectors of the Day Antony Thomas and Saeed Kamali Dehghan; Parting Shots of the End of a Beauty Queen's Reign

Aired June 20, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Angry scenes in Syria after the president delivers a speech short on promises and long on threats.

Meanwhile, on the border, a crisis which the UN's refugee chief tells me the world must not ignore.

Plus, the IMF warns of a second global meltdown if Greece goes under.

But can its own people afford to listen?

And they roared him to victory in the U.S. Open. Now, Northern Ireland gets ready to welcome Rory McIlroy home.

These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.

Well, for only the third time in three months of turmoil, Syria's president tried to calm history country earlier today. Critics, though, say Bashar al-Assad's much anticipated speech offered vague prime minister, not concrete reforms.

Well, under mounting pressure, he told supporters at Damascus University that this is a defining moment and that talks are underway to increase personal freedoms. He said dialogue could lead to possible changes to the constitution, to parliamentary elections and to his ruling Baath Party's grip on power.

But Mr. Al-Assad also spent a lot of time denouncing armed gangs, saboteurs and what he calls germs, blaming these forces for the bloodshed.


BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Conspiracies are like germs, which increase every moment and in every place. And it is impossible to exterminate them. But we can strengthen the immunity of our bodies against them. What we have witnessed of international and political solutions do not need to be greatly examined to confirm their existence and confronting the germs will not be resolved by time, talking about it or being afraid of it.


ANDERSON: Right. Keep an eye on the connect line above me on your screens.

We're moving on.

After his televised comments, fresh anti-government rallies and new criticism from Turkey's president, as EU foreign ministers worked to expand sanctions against the Syrian regime.

Mohammed Jamjoom has reported on the Arab Spring from across the region.

He's at CNN's Abu Dhabi bureau tonight -- Mohammed, empty words so far as many of the protesters are concerned. And out on the streets they were once again.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Becky. It was a heavily stage-managed event that we witnessed at Damascus University. President Bashir Assad speaking for about an hour to an adoring audience that clapped wildly for him at many times during his speech.

But the reaction on the streets of Syria, as far as all the video that we saw posted on different social media sites, was one that seemed to suggest that more people were emboldened to come out after this speech.

And we spoke to members of the opposition in Syria throughout the day, who said that they believe more people would be compelled to come out because they didn't think that President Bashir al-Assad was -- was offering anything more than empty words, vague promises.

He seemed to blame a lot of what was going on in Syria on saboteurs, on germ conspiracies, on foreign ideas and agendas.

They said they've heard this rhetoric before and that the president's seems disengaged and detached from the reality on the ground there.

Now, the speech also got international condemnation. British Foreign Secretary William Hague called it unconvincing and disappointing. And we also heard from White -- from State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Here's some of what she had to say.


VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Bashar al-Assad has been making promises to his people for years, for weeks. What's important now is action, not words. We would also note, in the speech, he spends a lot of time blaming foreign instigators rather than appreciating that his own people are simply disgusted by the regime -- by a regime that supports itself through repression, corruption and fear.

We'd also note, as the secretary did in her op-ed piece over the weekend, that the vast majority of those innocents killed in Syria were killed at the hands of security forces.


JAMJOOM: And, Becky, if I can go back for a second to a sound bite you played earlier from President al-Assad when he mentioned this germ conspiracy, it's quite interesting, if you draw a parallel of what's going on in the Arab Spring, the president, Bashar al-Assad, would say this, that he would seem to suggest that germs would be behind this.

You know, we saw video that was posted on social media, people out in the streets carrying signs, saying, "If we are the germs, are you the head germ?"

And, you know, a few months ago, in a country, in Yemen, the president there actually made a comparison to what was going on there to influenza, that his -- that his country was capturing the flu from countries like Egypt and Tunisia. It really goes to suggest that a lot of the autocratic rulers of these countries, where there are these uprisings, tend to think that there's no way this can be homegrown, that they're essentially catching these sicknesses or these germs. And it really reinforces the idea that these leaders are quite detached from what's going on out in their own streets, out in their own backyards -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating.

Mohammed Jamjoom for you out of the Abu Dhabi bureau tonight.

Well, as Syria's leadership clamps down, of course, on dissent, Turkish officials say more than $10,000 Syrians have fled north of the border, where they are now living in tent cities. Bashar al-Assad says he wants all the refugees and displaced families to come home.

But as Arwa Damon found out during what was a rare visit to the camps, they are not eager to comply.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This baby was born a refugee. He's just a day old and named Recep Erdogan, after the Turkish prime minister. His parents say it's out of gratitude to the country they believe saved them from imminent death in their homeland.

His father, who did not want to be filmed, angrily states: "It's better to die in Turkey than a Syria ruled by Assad."

Ahmed Abdul Aziz (ph), faltering as he stands, is 103 years older than baby Erdogan. After just a few questions about his life, he starts to cry. He is from Jisr al-Shugur, one of the towns that has been the focal point of the Syrian military crackdown in recent weeks.

Thousands of refugees have streamed into Turkey. The media, until now, officially kept away from them. Turkish authorities finally granted the press limited access to the refugees in this camp, on a carefully coordinated tour. We are able to break away and briefly hear some of their harrowing stories of survival.

This 4-day-old baby's uncle says he was born on the border before an ambulance could arrive. "It was a miracle," he told us. Nine-year-old Jamia (ph) remembers how she could hear the gunfire and could see smoke before her family fled.

Row upon row houses terrified families. They live in bare tents. Most fled with just the clothes on their backs.

The refugees are provided with food, water and other basics. As the tour progresses, a small demonstration. Chants of "Thank you, Turkey," coupled with cries of, "The people want the downfall of the regime."

As we depart, children perched on their playground chant anti-government slogans. All the parents who we spoke to tell us they dream of going home. But it's a dream that can't be realized, they say, until Assad leaves.

Arwa Damon, CNN, at the Boynuyogun refugee camp in Turkey.


ANDERSON: Well, Syrians are crossing into Turkey as the U.N. marks World Refugee Day. Now, a new report from the United Nations Human Rights Council shows that the number of people forced from their homes has reached its highest level in 15 years -- nearly 44 million around the world. And many of the world's poorest countries are actually hosting huge refugee populations. Among them, ironically, Syria.

Well, earlier, I asked the U.N. higher commissioner for refugees for his concerns about displaced people living in Syria, as well as those fleeing the country.

This is what he said.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGHER COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: Well, I think it's important to recognize that the Syrian people have been extremely generous in hosting so many Palestinians and so many Iraqis. And the protection of the systems has been granted to them in a -- even in the most difficult circumstances that the country is facing now.

But we also add the dramatic situation of the Syrians fleeing the country.

So both require our attention. Both require our commitment.

But I would say that countries in the developing world that have more than four fifths of the world's refugees need a lot of support from developed countries in order to be able to cope with this enormous challenge.

ANDERSON: What is the narrative or the message that you're hearing from those fleeing Syria at present?

GUTERRES: Well, the message everybody has is a message for the violence to end and for problems to be solved. That's what everybody wants, is to be able to go back and to go back in normal conditions. And let's hope that these wishes can materialize.

ANDERSON: I know you've spent some time in Lampedusa recently, the Italian island where many of those who have been fleeing Libya have arrived.

What was your experience there?

GUTERRES: Well, first of all, Lampedusa is a very small island with 5,000 inhabitants. And at a certain moment, there was 6,000 people coming from Libya, from Tunisia. And, obviously, as you can imagine, the -- the conditions were dramatic and many people, of course, were living in -- in very, very harsh situations.

Fortunately now, it has been possible to organize a -- a movement from Lampedusa to different areas in the Italian continent and in Sicily to allow for an improvement of the situation in Lampedusa. And I have to say that we should praise the Italian Guarda Costeira, the Coast Guard, and the Guarda de Finanza, that has done a fantastic job rescuing people. I've seen films of rescue operations in which the courage that was put by these people to rescue those that were fleeing Libya in boats that were totally unseaworthy. The rescue operations there have been something that the international community should recognize.

ANDERSON: What are the greatest misconceptions about those who are moving around the world at present, do you think?

GUTERRES: I think there are two dramatic misperceptions. The first is the idea that all refugees come into the north, into Europe, which is not true. As I said, four fifths of the world's refugees are in the developing world. And it is the developing world that needs international solidarity to cope with this challenge.

And the second perception is the inability to distinguish what economic migration is, people moving from one country to another because they want - - and that's a very legitimate aspiration -- a better life and what refugees are, those that are fleeing a conflict or persecution, those that have no alternative but to flee from their country and need the protection that is supposed to be granted to them according to international law.


ANDERSON: Antonio Guterres speaking to me earlier, the head of the UNHCR, of course.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

Up next, we'll get to you the rest of the day's main news, including the war in Libya and claims that children were killed in the latest wave of NATO air strikes.

Plus, in eight minutes time, fallout from the scandal in the football world. FIFA's vice president, Jack Warner, resigns.

And hello Hollywood -- we'll visit Northern Ireland and the home town of golf's new star.

Stick around for that in around 25 minutes time.

You're watching CNN.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Welcome back.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson in London with a 360 take on some of the stories that need your attention this hour.

And news just coming into CNN. Former Tunisian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has been convicted in abstentia. A Tunisian court found he and his wife guilty of corruption charges and sentenced them to 35 years in prison. Ben Ali and his wife have lived in Saudi Arabia since the January revolt that toppled him.

In addition to the sentence, the court said they were fined $65 million.

Well, NATO says it's investigating Libya's accusation that civilians were killed in an air strike west of Tripoli. Now, the alliance confirms that it carried out a strike against Q&A high level commander in Mohammed -- Moammar Gadhafi's regime. The Libyan government says 15 people died, including three children.

Well, for storm-ravaged parts of China, the hits just keep on coming. Overwhelming floods have already killed at least 175 people and more heavy rain is now forecast. Flooding has impacted at least 13 provinces since early this month and caused more than 1.6 million people to be evacuated.

But the flooding has also ended the worst drought to hit Southern China in half a century.

Well, the world's greatest tennis players have descended on Wimbledon for the third grand slam tournament of the year. No major surprises in the opening round.

Britain's Andy Murray did give up his first set to Spain's Daniel Gimeno- Traver. But just in the last half hour, he battled back to win the match.

CNN's Pedro Pinto has the rest of the highlights from opening day.


PEDRO PINTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rafa and the rain -- those were the main stories on the opening day of the 105th Wimbledon tennis championships. Rafael Nadal

Wimbledon tennis championships. Rafael Nadal, the world number one on the ATP Tour, he was first down on sense of court. Then he made quick work of his opponent, American veteran, Michael Russell. 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 was the score, in under two hours' time. It was Rafa's 15th straight victory here at the All England Club.

On the women's side of the draw, Venus Williams was the big name in action on the day, even though she's seated (ph) 23rd. She won her first round match easily, 6-3 and 6-1.

Shortly after that match was completed, the rain started. So a lot of the matches on the outside courts postponed, with the exception on the matches going on at Santa Cours (ph), which, of course, now, has a roof protecting it from the bad weather.

Taking a look at some of the other big names in action, on Tuesday, it will be Roger Federer, six time champion; Novak Djokovic and also Serena Williams.

That's a quick look at the opening day of action here at Wimbledon, at All England Club.

Pedro Pinto, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: All right.

Well, coming up after this short break here on CNN, the bribery scandal at FIFA takes -- can you believe it -- another twist?

What Vice President Jack Warner's shocked resignation means for a corruption investigation that was meant to clean up FIFA's act.

After that, no rescue for Greece -- not now, at least. European finance ministers keep the lid on the next slice of bailout money. A Greek politician tells us what that means for an economy on the edge.


ANDERSON: Throwing in the towel -- one of the men at the center of the FIFA bribery scandal has resigned as the world's football vice -- well, I'm going to start that again -- as the world football body's vice president.

Jack Warner was the longest serving member of FIFA's executive committee. The 68 -year-old from Trinidad and Tobago was suspended last month, after he was accused of corruption.

Well, it's being dubbed football's shame -- a corruption scandal at the very heart of the game. And today, another head rolls in what has been a long and torrid couple of months.

Let's remember how we actually got to this point, shall we?

Weeks before FIFA's presidential vote, the former FHM, David Treason (ph), accuses some members of the executive board, including Jack Warner, of trying to secure cash for votes. The papers were absolutely full of it.

May 29th, two weeks later, Qatar's Mohammed bin Haman and Warner are suspended after allegations that the pair paid bribes of nearly a million dollars to Caribbean Football Associations.

Now, football's ethics committee upholds the complaints against the two, effectively barring bin Hammam from standing against Seth Blatter in the elections.

Moving on, June 1st, despite a last minute attempt by the England FA to delay the presidential vote, Sepp Blatter is reelected unopposed for a fourth term as president.

And that leads us on to today. This chap here, Jack Warner, and his resignation from football. Well, back in late May, Warner warned FIFA and the world to brace for what he called "a footballing tsunami."

So how big a deal is today's news of his resignation?

Well, who better to tackle that for you than "WORLD SPORT'S" Alex Thomas?


ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's obviously huge. This is man that's been in world football's corridors of power for 30 years, a hugely controversial figure for at least half of that period.

I mean he was the man that was brandishing that controversial e-mail just two days before the FIFA presidential reelection of Sepp Blatter, saying he was going to release the skeletons from FIFA's closet. As it is, those secrets will now remain secret.

ANDERSON: Because, of course, the investigation is dead.

THOMAS: Yes, that's right. I mean under a revamped ethics committee that Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, explained to us in an interview less than a week after he was reelected as the head of world football, he was due to be investigated thoroughly over allegations of bribery, which Warner denies. That investigation won't go ahead. And it makes a bit of a mockery of what Mr. Blatter said to me.


SEPP BLATTER, FIFA PRESIDENT: I have said zero tolerance is one thing. But I have also said the social-political, social and cultural implementation of football is important. But now, it's to rebuild the image of FIFA. That's number one. And I have already started.


THOMAS: So there we have it. That's not going to help the skeptics that say that FIFA still has a lot of work to do to improve its image.

ANDERSON: We've got a couple of questions that have been sent to us on Facebook.

Patricia said here, referring to Sepp Blatter: "He should step down, as well, in order to inject new blood into the system" -- Alex, an injection of new blood into the system is what she suggests.

Doesn't there need to be a radical change to inject credibility into FIFA?

And if -- if your answer is yes, what are they going to do about it?

THOMAS: Well, they've said they are going to -- as well as revamp that ethics committee, introduce this new solutions committee. So look at the governance of the whole of FIFA. Sepp Blatter has always been one to describe FIFA as his football family. They like to keep things in-house. They don't like any outside interference.

But he suggested controversial American statesman, Henry Kissinger; Spanish opera singer, Placido Domingo, which is the strangest one; and Dutch and Barcelona football legend, Johann Cruyff, as possible ambassadors that could advise that solutions committee.

ANDERSON: All right.

Emmanuel has written to us. He says: "Mr. Warner is not up to all this alone. Blatter and Co have not only embarrassed football, but dignified corruption."

And I think that's quite a good line there -- Alex, where does this leave Blatter at the end of the day, do you think?

I know he's reelected, but do we get another four years of basically sort of this -- this organization, which is incredibly powerful, shrouded not only in mystery, but the potential of corruption?

THOMAS: Yes, possibly. I saw this panning out in one of two ways. With Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam under investigation -- remember, bin Hammam was the man due to stand against Blatter in the FIFA presidency. As it was, he was put before the ethics committee. He resigned just days before the vote and you only had Sepp Blatter's name on the ballot paper. That was the only name the Congress could vote for. Even if they abstained, Blatter was still going to get in with just one vote alone.

But if more allegations are going to come out at a later date, then maybe Blatter would have had to resign in amongst a storm of further new controversies.

As it is, we now have to wait four years and possibly you wait for President Michel Platini, who will replace him.


ANDERSON: All right, Alex Thomas' take on Jack Warner's resignation there.

More on that tonight in "WORLD SPORT." That is an hour from now here on CNN.

Well, actress Demi Moore is partnering with CNN's Freedom Project for a compelling new documentary. As a passionate advocate for victims of human trafficking herself, she travels to Nepal to meet the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year and some of the thousands of women and girls that her organization has rescued from forced prostitution.

CNN's world premiere of that documentary is this Sunday.

And I just want to get you a preview of that.


DEMI MOORE, ACTRESS AND ACTIVIST: The snow-covered mountains of the Himalayas are the first sight to greet most travelers arriving in Nepal. Its corporation, Katmandu, is a busy hub for tourist traffic, climbers and trekkers drawn by the lure of Everest.

Most who come use it as a gateway to adventure. But I'm here for a very different reason. Sandwiched between China and India, Nepal is also a magnet for another kind of human traffic. The tiny nation provides a steady supply of sex slaves for the brothels of Delhi and Mumbai.

I arrived at Madi, Nepal to an overwhelming welcome. Nepalese people are known for their warmth and hospitality. And I was experiencing it firsthand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's so wonderful to be here.

Thank you so much for coming.

MOORE: I wanted to come to learn what you're doing that's working so that I can find ways of -- of helping share those best practices in my own country, where this is also a problem.


ANDERSON: We'll hear the personnel firsthand experiences of the young survivors that demi meant. That's "Nepal's Stolen Children," a CNN Freedom Project documentary. The world premier is Sunday night at 8:00 in London, as well as 8:00 in Johannesburg, the times locally with you, only here on CNN.

Well, coming up here this hour, Greece divided -- the government is under orders to raise money if it wants a second bailout. But for some, the cuts are too much to bear.

Then, a hometown hero -- we're in Northern Ireland as fans toast the new champion of golf.

And the woman who became the symbol of Iran's Green Revolution -- we speak to the filmmakers who want to ensure Nada's legacy is never forgotten.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. It's half past nine in London, let's get you a quick check of the headlines this hour here on CNN.

Two little, too late. That is the message from Syrian activists after their president made vague promises for reform. In a televised speech, Bashar al-Assad raised the possibility of amending the constitution and called for national dialogue.

A Tunisian court has found exiled Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife guilty of corruption and sentenced them to 35 years in prison. Ben Ali and his wife have lived in Saudi Arabia since the revolt there in January.

NATO has now admitted carrying out an air strike west of the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The alliance says it hit a high-level command and control site. Libyan officials, though, say 15 people were killed, including three children. NATO says it is now investigating.

And fourth-seed Andy Murray has survived a nervous start to surge into the second round at Wimbledon. He beats Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver three sets to one. Defending Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal was true to form with another perfect start, and Venus Williams also cruised through the first round. Opening day at Wimbledon.

And those are your headlines.

Well, a stark warning from the International Monetary Fund today, saying a failure to take decisive action on Greece could lead to a second global financial meltdown.

Meanwhile, the Greek government is preparing to sell off billions of dollars' worth of assets to raise badly-needed funds. On the auction block, airports, highways, banks, and lucrative licenses.

Why the fire sale? Well, because European finance ministers decided Greece will only get a second bailout if it raises more than $70 billion in the next four years.

Well, the country's also determined to introduce another round of budget cuts, meaning more people may soon be out of work. For some in Athens, it is the final straw. This report from Diana Magnay.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Each day, each evening, they're here in front of the parliament, angry at further austerity they say they can't take anymore.

In front of the Finance Ministry, a smaller group is camped out here for 19 days. These protesters passed grueling civil service exams last year, which should have guaranteed them job in the public sector, they say. Jobs they never got.

SOPHIE KAKOURI, UNEMPLOYED GRADUATE: The 80 percent of us have masters in finance, and in taxation, and --

MAGNAY (on camera): And this country needs tax collectors, right?

KAKOURI: Yes, that's the problem, that the manual and the state says that we need income. Revenue. And these are the services that collect revenue, but they don't hire us.

MAGNAY: If they have to cut jobs in the public sector, should they be hiring you? Would you hire yourself if you were in his position up there?

KAKOURI: Our wages are going to be much less than the profit that we can make.

MAGNAY (voice-over): Public sector workers like Effie and Constantinus Matsikas both worry each month that the Ministry of Culture will eliminate their jobs. They haven't been paid for three weeks because the state says it can't meet the payroll.

EFFIE MATSIKAS, PUBLIC SECTOR WORKER: I want to leave Greece, for my children. If I could, I would have left.

MAGNAY (on camera): What stops you?

MATSIKAS: I don't have the guts to do it.

MAGNAY (voice-over): A middle class family that's seen its financial obligations rise tenfold over the past year because of tax hikes on just about everything.

NICK SKREKAS, ECONOMIC ANALYST: If you destroy the productive capacity of the economy by taxing it to death, if you take down the middle class, there won't be much of an economy to generate income to be able to generate tax revenues so you can pay back your debts.

MAGNAY: No money to hire the young and qualified, and a feeling here that, however loud their protest, the government simply can't afford to listen.


MAGNAY: Diana Magnay, CNN, Athens.


ANDERSON: With these new austerity measures, Greece may have a tough sell on its hands, but it also doesn't have much of a choice. The German finance minister summed it up this way. He said, "It depends on Greece. Europe is ready to do its share."

Well, earlier today, I spoke with Elena Panaritis, who's an economic adviser to the Greek prime minister. We talked about threats from the IMF and the EU to withhold bailout money from Greece, and I asked her if the government was taking seriously those warnings from these big institutions. This is what she said.


ELENA PANARITIS, ECONOMIC ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF GREECE: Well, of course, these are serious institutions. And having worked at the World Bank myself, I know very well that you need to actually, as a country, meet certain conditions for the transactions to be distributed, to be disbursed.

So, of course, when these serious institutions are saying something, we should take them seriously, as well.

ANDERSON: Do you sympathize with those who say you broke the rules, you ran up the most enormous credit card bill and, now, German and other tax payers are left to foot the bill?

PANARITIS: Well, they're footing the bill with an interest rate, so it's a loan. So, I wouldn't really say it's a footing of the bill. And on the other hand, we really need to see what are the alternatives.

We belong to a family of the euro zone. We all share the same currency, and the -- it was interesting to see what the cost would be of having one country default to the rest of the European family.

Because this actually generates a much higher cost, it's not even -- it should not even be a part of any viable alternative. That's why we're all together in the European zone, in the euro system, are trying to figure out the best possible solution, not only for Greece, but for the rest of Europe.


ANDERSON: Yes, they are, at the moment. Elena Panaritis, an economic advisor to the Greek prime minister speaking to me today.

Well, Greece, of course, is hanging in a state of limbo right now. The government needs to vote on those new austerity measures but, first, the prime minister is facing a vote of confidence on Tuesday. After that, parliament will vote on those new budget cutting measures, including cuts to public spending and more tax increases.

Now, if that passes, Greece could get a second bailout by mid-July. There's a lot of ifs and buts in this at present.

Well, coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, is this young man the next Tiger? Some think so. We're going to take a look at a new generation of golfers. We're going to start, though, with this man.


ANDERSON: Well, a new era in golf has just arrived, and it's being ushered in by a young Northern Irishman named Rory McIlroy. The 22-year-old stormed to victory at the US Open on Sunday at two under par, 69, gave him an eight-shot victory at the Congressional Country Club in Maryland.

McIlroy lead from start to finish to claim his first major title, and he's already thinking about his next one.


RORY MCILROY, US OPEN CHAMPION: I'm surprised that I've done it so early, but it's a great thing for me. I can always call myself a major champion, and I can go ahead and focus on, as I said, trying to get some more.


ANDERSON: Well, Hollywood now has a new star. That's Hollywood, Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy's hometown. Hundreds of people packed into the golf club to watch the local boy make them proud. CNN's Dan Rivers is there, and he joins us now.

I mean, the atmosphere must have been quite remarkable.

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was an incredible scene here as Rory McIlroy stormed home to win the US Open. We're overlooking the 18th hole, here. Well, the 19th hole by the bar, it was really quite a party.


RIVERS (voice-over): Spectators at the 19th Hole erupted with joy as Rory McIlroy sank the last put.


RIVERS: They already knew the local boy was brilliant. Now, he was on his way to becoming a golfing legend, and the party went on through the night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a fantastic victory, we're really, really proud of Rory and his family. He's represented Ireland and Hollywood, he's put us on the map.

RIVERS (on camera): It may lack some of the glamor of its US namesake, but Hollywood, Northern Ireland now has its own star. The youngest winner of the US Open in 88 years is already the talk of the town, but he's also now a global golfing hero.

RIVERS (voice-over): On the course where it all started for McIlroy, his uncle told me Rory was a natural from a very early age.

COLM MCILROY, RORY MCILROY'S UNCLE: He probably had a club in his hands when he was about two or three, and he actually up in the clubhouse there, his father was bar manager, and he used to -- there'd be plastic golf clubs, plastic balls up and down the mix lines, and he started there, and he just played. We could never get him off the course.

RIVERS: And friend Pete Murray says fame won't change him.

PETER MURRAY, RORY MCILROY'S FRIEND: He's always had his feet on the ground, he's always the same person, he always comes back, plays football with us and has a drink. It's great to see that he -- the success hasn't gone to his head.

RIVERS: His career has been followed closely here. Everyone knew he was destined for stardom.

JOHN STEVENSON, RORY MCILROY'S FORMER HEAD TEACHER: His teachers would say he was a bright guy. He could have stayed and done a whole clatter of GCSEs and gone onto do A levels and possibly university if that's what he'd wanted. But everyone knew from a very early stage that Rory's talent lay on the golf course.

RIVERS: On the first tee at Hollywood Golf Club today, youngsters were realizing that their dreams can come true.

PETER MCTIMPSEY, GOLF STUDENT: He's been here since he was very young, and I've just -- I'm just trying to follow his footsteps, like most other juveniles up at the club.

CONOR MARKS, GOLF STUDENT: Well, he's a big inspiration because I started out here, so one day I could be like him.

RIVERS: But there is a dawning realization that no one is quite like Rory McIlroy. They're already calling him the Celtic Tiger. Here, they think they have a new Hollywood icon.


RIVERS: Well, his father is a brilliant golf player, and I was taking some lessons here from his cousin, Fergus, who's pretty handy with a golf club as well, and he's only 12 years old. Becky?

ANDERSON: Oh, please! I'm not even going to ask you whether he whipped your bottom at the -- on the course. Anyway, let's move on. Thank you for that.

The last five majors have now gone to 20-somethings, so let's have a look at them. Runner-up at the US Open was 23-year-old Australian Jason Day. He and Rory have been mates since they practiced together in Melbourne, Australia as teenagers.

Unknown American Kevin Chappell tied for third spot in his first US Open. He only ranked around 200 on golf's money list. At just 24, though, he's got plenty of time to climb the ladder.

And watch out for this one. Japan's Ryo Ishikawa. Pros say he is a force to be reckoned with.

Well, Rory McIlroy's been touted as a future world number one from all. We're joined by CNN's Don Riddell.

It really actually makes you feel quite ill, doesn't it, when you realize how young these guys are and how good they are? Anyway, moving on, the bitter and twisted old bag here can only just swing her club.

Yes, some of these youngsters.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. And we're looking at, is this the new era of golf? Is the Tiger Woods era over? It would certainly appear to be that way.

And of course, you've got McIlroy leading the way, but you've got these -- all these other young players. Jason Day, 23, he's finished second in the last two majors. Most people have never heard of him before that.

This guy Kevin Chappell. And so many young players coming through. Butch Harmon was leading a lot of the commentary yesterday.


RIDDELL: He's one of the most respected figures in the game. And he said he can't remember a time where he saw this many young, talented players all coming through. It's just incredible.

ANDERSON: Tiger just dominated for so long, didn't he? That now it feels like the sort of lid's off it, as it were.

RIDDELL: Yes. And the question is, can somebody else come in and dominate in the way he did? Since Tiger won his last major, which was a few years ago, now, there have been 11 major tournaments and 11 completely different winners.

ANDERSON: That's remarkable.

RIDDELL: So, nobody's dominating. But could McIlroy come in and dominate in the way that Tiger could and did? It's starting to look that way.

ANDERSON: Yes, we've got to -- we've got to put that on the table at this point, because he had a -- he had a meltdown, let's call it a meltdown at Masters, and watching him go out into that first tee yesterday. In golf, it's called the yips, obviously. The idea that he had to swing that club and tonk that ball straight down the phone, which he did --

RIDDELL: And he did it --

ANDERSON: -- was remarkable.

RIDDELL: -- and he birdied the first hole.


RIDDELL: Now, he has learned an awful lot. A lot of people completely wrote him off after the Masters. That was the tournament only two months ago where he had a four-shot lead halfway through the final round and he blew it.

A lot of people said that could have absolutely killed him. But within two months, he bounced back from that quite, quite incredibly.

And McIlroy has been in contention at the last four majors. Not just the US Open that he's won, not just the Masters, but he opened up the British Open with a 63 last year, and then he got blown off the course in the stormy weather and shot an 80. But he still fought back to come third in that tournament.

ANDERSON: Yes, he tore up the course yesterday.

RIDDELL: I mean, he is --

ANDERSON: It was a walk in the park, to a certain extent, after the first couple of holes. His dad's a great golfer. Psychologically, it's important he's got his family around him, of course, I think, as well.

RIDDELL: Well, I think that's very important to him. He's got a lot of people that are very supportive of him, even a lot of people on the tour, a lot of people that he's supposed to be out there beating. I think a lot of them kind of secretly wanted him to do it yesterday.


RIDDELL: And now that he's got this first one out of the way, who knows what could come after that? Psychologically, the first one, I think, is the hardest one to win.

ANDERSON: Yes. Exciting times. Don, as ever, thank you very much, indeed.

Well, still to come, the woman who became the face of Iran's Green Revolution. We're going to speak to the undercover journalist and the filmmaker who are making sure that Neda's story is never forgotten. This is the two-year anniversary of her death. More on that after this.


ANDERSON: At 49 minutes past 9:00, you are back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. Now, two years ago today, an iconic figure emerged on the streets of Tehran. She was among thousands of Iranian people protesting their country's disputed elections.

Her name was Neda which, in Farsi, means "voice," and she became the symbol of Iran's so-called Green Revolution. Well, here story is one that tonight's Connectors of the Day want to ensure is never forgotten. And we do warn you that some of the images that you are about to see may be disturbing to some of you.


ANDERSON (voice-over): It's a death that was watched by the world. Twenty-six-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan was shot during the June 2009 demonstrations. Her death was captured on a cell phone camera and, within hours, posted on the internet. A moment that has become symbolic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She started looking like -- looking to the camera, looking to us. "Look, I'm dying. Look, I'm dying. I was killed."


ANDERSON: Acclaimed British filmmaker Antony Thomas has looked in his documentary "For Neda." Together with undercover Iranian journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan, he takes a closer look at who this young woman was, and how her death became a rallying cry for freedom around the world.

On this, the second anniversary of her death, I asked Antony and Saeed if they thought the voice of Neda is still resonating.

ANTONY THOMAS, FILMMAKER: I believe it does. And it's wonderful that it had -- the film had its first showing in the United States a full year ago. Now it's showing in Britain a year later.

And I hope we're contributing, but from the messages I get from Iran, I'm pretty sure that Neda is not forgotten and will not be forgotten.

ANDERSON (on camera): Let's talk about the film. Saeed, you worked secretly in Iran to locate and film interviews with Neda's family, of course, for the first time. These people took a lot of risks, as you did. Who did you talk to?

SAEED KAMALI DEHGHAN, JOURNALIST: When I went into Iran, I interviewed almost all the family members. I interviewed her mum, I interviewed her brother, her sister, her father. So, we're very lucky that we interviewed almost everybody we intended to interview.

ANDERSON: And of course, the point was to find out who Neda was.

THOMAS: Really was. To kind of change her from just being a symbol to being a living, flesh and blood human being who we could understand, and we could understand why she chose to risk her life and go out on the streets that day.

ANDERSON: So, what did we learn?

THOMAS: Well, we learned a lot. We learned that this was, first of all, this was a young lady who was -- had a spirit of rebellion right from the start.

Also, when you meet that family, you feel that this could be a family next- door to you, that they -- this is a very important mission of mine, this sense of a common humanity.

People often think of the Iranian people as 70 million crazies. Well, I want them to show that they're people like us under their deplorable regime. I wanted to express what it was like to be a woman in that society, and I wanted to tell the events that led up to that election and the protests that followed it.

ANDERSON: What do you think the most important moments were that you learned about Neda from her family?

DEHGHAN: I think -- I agree with Antony that, well, before going to the house, I saw her as a symbol of freedom for our nation. And I was very moved when I went to her house.

But what was very interesting for me was that how simple and normal and ordinary she was. As Antony said, she was like all other thousands of Iranian girls who went into the streets.

She just wanted freedom, she wanted to read her books, she wanted to enjoy her life, to be herself, to be like how she wanted to be. So, that was what I found very interesting.

ANDERSON: Would she have wanted to be an icon or a symbol, do you think?

THOMAS: I don't think she would have been at all. And she wasn't political in any way. This is the important thing. But she felt strongly about dignity. Dignity for herself and for others.

She didn't belong to any party or any opposition group, but she -- as her father said, she told things as they are. She was straight. And she was deeply offended by the faked election and always kicking against the treatment of women in her country.

ANDERSON: The film also looks at the ongoing struggle, of course, of women in Iran --


ANDERSON: -- and the struggles that women face every day.

DEHGHAN: That is -- human rights in Iran is in crisis, now. Because of everything that is happening in the Arab world, unfortunately, Iran has now been sidelined a bit. But this is what is happening on a daily basis, and this is a danger that the human rights crisis in Iran might be forgotten.

There are women in prison, now, there've been -- there was a woman who died last week because she died at the funeral of her father. So, this is a very daily-based crisis that is happening. We managed to show the world just one example, but there are many of those in Iran.

ANDERSON: Let me just put a couple of questions from our viewers to both of you. Jackson asks, "What can the people of Iran do today, 2011, if they want regime change?"

THOMAS: Today, if your facing helicopters and automatic weapons and so forth unarmed, you don't have your -- you don't even have a chance. My experience teaches me that there's only change when the people at the top start to fragment. I'm afraid in the streets alone, you're not going to create change.

But don't lose courage. Don't lose heart. Because the more this pressure builds, the more pressure you put on the establishment there --

ANDERSON: You say it's a very difficult situation within Iran. Of course, Iran and the Green Revolution, a real inspiration to youngsters across --

THOMAS: That's right.

ANDERSON: -- the Middle East and North Africa. Do you see Neda as a symbol outside of Iran still resonating today?

THOMAS: I don't know it's Neda specifically in the Arab world, but I do know that the Green Movement has been an inspiration.

ANDERSON: And that leads me to another question from the viewers. Carmen says, "Do you think a successful Green Revolution can ever happen in Iran?"

DEHGHAN: Yes. I dare to believe in change. I think it will come. We just need to have patience. It happened in Tunisia, it happened in Egypt, it will come to Iran. As Antony says, it has started, somehow, from Iran in 2009, and it went to the Arab world. And now, it will come back to Iran again.

It's just -- and there has been big achievements in the past two years, I guess. People in Iran have become very in tune with this practice of democracy, if I may call it.

ANDERSON: If you wanted our viewers to take one thing away from your film, what would it be?

THOMAS: Well, I want them to feel an identity through Neda, to feel an identity with the Iranian people. I want them to recognize how much we share with those people, and that understanding is very important to me.


ANDERSON: Remembering Neda on the two year anniversary of her death.

On Tuesday night, we speak to one of the greatest boxers of all time. Sugar Ray Leonard tells us about his battles in and out of the ring. He's your Connector of the Day.

Send in your questions. Do remember to tell us where you're writing from, is where you can do all that, be part of what is your part of the show, of course.

Just before we go, in tonight's Parting Shots for you, a beauty queen who joined us as a Connector of the Day last week has ended her reign and parted with her crown.

Now, Lebanon-born Rima Fakih was the first Arab-American ever to be crowned Miss USA. Last week, she told us how she dealt with criticism from Muslims who felt she was not a good representative for her faith.

Last night, though, in Vegas, she handed over her title to the 2011 winner.


RIMA FAKIH, MISS USA 2010: Miss USA 2011 is -- California!



ANDERSON: Twenty-one-year-old Alyssa Campanella is the new Miss USA, and she describes herself as a history buff and fan of Star Wars, and she will represent the US in the Miss Universe pageant later this year.

Now, our friend Rima was even on hand to help her successor get fitted with flowers, a sash, and a crown. Only in Vegas.

I'm Becky Anderson, thank you for watching. Your world has been connected. The world news headlines and "BackStory" follow this short break, so don't go away.