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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
ISIS Announces A Top Spokesman Killed in Aleppo; More Than 6,000 Migrants Saved from Mediterranean Sea; U.N.: Burkini Ban "Fuels Religious Intolerance"; Burkina Ban Ignites Identity Debate In France. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired August 30, 2016 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:19] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Hala Gorani. We're live in Paris this hour. Thanks for being with us on CNN.
We begin with breaking news. ISIS is announcing that one of its top spokesmen has been killed in Aleppo, Syria. Mohammed al-Adnani was the
terrorist group's most public face. His death marks the highest profile killing among the extremist group for anyone following news on ISIS
activities in Syria. You will recognize this particular individual.
Let's get more details now from our Nick Paton Walsh live in Gaziantep in southern Turkey. Talk to us about Adnani. What was his role? How
important is this for the fight against ISIS?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a staggering moment in the fight against ISIS. This is the most public voice
that organization had. This is the man behind its media unit, behind those ghastly often ghostly high definition videos of executions brutality that
inspired recruits to join ISIS globally. He's the man who told what we use to refer to as lone wolf terror attackers in various western capitals. He
said to them, you don't really need to get instructions from us, just go off and carry out whatever possibly act you want to.
Now, we're hearing today remarkable statements, almost it seems simultaneous from the ISIS affiliated news agency, al-Amaq. They say that
Abu Mohammed al-Adnani died, "One inspecting military operation near Aleppo." That echoes by a statement relatively familiar kind of note
paper, if you like, miles stead of official ISIS statements that's being circulated. It seems authentic which says a similar thing.
Now, of course, we haven't got independent confirmation that he is dead. We haven't heard from the Pentagon or you may speculate maybe behind this
in some way or other and it maybe possible that ISIS are trying to hide his presence somewhere by claiming him dead when actually he's alive. But this
is an unprecedented moment to have two statements like this. Such a high profile figure and not really a death of ISIS, whatever won't you'd think
admits to haven't happened particularly at time when they're losing so much territory, under so much pressure in both Iraq and Syria.
Let's say we know few extra details here but this is one of the most important figures they had. Probably the second most important to Abu Bakr
al-Baghdadi, their leader. The man who told people to attack the West, told them how to do it, was behind the media campaign entirely. And I
think had a $5 million price on his head from the United States, you saw the value we had to that organization, Hala.
GORANI: And let's talk about what operational impact that may have on a group like ISIS, the death of one of its most public spokespeople, Nick?
WALSH: Well, I mean, obviously if the media operation has taken some kind of a hit from him not being around, that could impact their ability to
recruit. But that's already hampered by how bad it this for them. But the Turkish border here, frankly, it's more morale, it's more esteem, it's
makes it hard to imagine. They would announce this death and then actually be faked to take this kind of public blow. Now to say we don't have
independent confirmation. But this is one of the most important figures. The man behind the instruction to just go off and attack whoever you like
in the West. They refer to soldier the caliphate. We can claim responsibility later. It kind of changed the model, if you like, of
Jihadist attacks in western capitals. You didn't have to necessarily have command and control, you could just do something.
And that's we've seen across Europe in the past summer, those ghastly attacks that subsequently al-Amaq would claim they somehow had an
affiliation to. But this is a seismic moment in this fight. They're under pressure territorially. But now, one of the most high profile figure, it's
not their most public voice frankly, seems according to ISIS itself .
WALSH: . to be dead. Hala?
GORANI: All right. Very interesting development. Breaking news with Nick Paton Walsh in Gaziantep. One of the most high profile faces of the
terrorist group in Syria killed, according to the group, in Aleppo. We'll have a lot more on this story as details become available.
Now, you may have noticed I'm not in the London studio. I'm actually in Paris, France. I'm here in the French capital. There's been a big debate
about national identity. It's played out all of this summer, namely over the burkini, that conservative swimwear worn by some Muslim women. It's
dominated the headlines.
But it's not just that piece of swimwear. This debate has raised big questions and tensions about what it means to be French. We're going to
take some of these tough questions with my guests this hour.
But I want to turn our attention back to Syria before we get to that, where the blood on the battlefields never has time to dry, the guns never rest.
It's been like that every day for more than five years. And over the last 24 hours, Turkey has been shelling almost two dozen targets in the
country's north, according to state media.
[15:05:05] It is targeting what it calls terrorists. But in Syria, that word doesn't mean much anymore.
I just want to get -- give you a sense of how complicated this has become. Look at the graph of who's fighting who. I've been following Syria every
single day for five years and sometimes I'm starting to get confused. You're not alone if you are as well.
Now, ISIS, Russia, America, countless rebel factions, regional powers, not to mention the government itself, all locked in a murderous free for all
that is destroying Syria from the inside out. And because of wars like that and crushing poverty, hundreds of thousands of people have tried to
flee to Europe this year, preferring to risk death at sea than life at home.
Let's bring in Jan Egeland, the Syria adviser at the U.N. and Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council. He's with us from Oslo.
Jan Egeland thanks for being with us. We've been following for the last several days talks between the U.S. Secretary of State and its Russian
counterpart in Geneva. Yet again, no agreement. How frustrated are you by this political paralysis?
JAN EGELAND, SECRETARY-GENERAL, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL: I'm very frustrated, because indeed, we have, as humanitarians, tried to reach the
civilian population in Syria for 1,500 days and nights. Many places we have succeeded. But too many places, we have been prevented from giving
relief to women, children, elderly, the wounded, the sick. This is a war with not only bad guys against bad guys. It is mostly bad guys against
very good civilians. And we're not able to protect and assist the very good civilians.
GORANI: And how short are you on your targets? Because one of the things you said is that in June and July, you basically reached only a fraction of
the people in Syria who need your help. Whose fault is it?
EGELAND: The fault that we're not reaching people in the besieged areas and in these crossfire areas, including Aleppo City. The fault is the
parties on the ground. There's international sponsors who are bombing and who are aiding these parties. I mean, it is the armed actors and their
sponsors, really. And we are there as humanitarians. The U.N., the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, the non-governmental organizations, the Syrian
civil society organizations. But they are prevented from assisting the civilians. And they are directly attacked and so are the civilians. This
is a very brutal, very horrific war.
GOLANI: If there was an agreement between the Russians and the Americans, and this is what the world has been waiting for and mainly Syrians have
been waiting for, how much easier would it make your job in terms of humanitarian deliveries?
EGELAND: What I would say that the two coaches of the International Syria Support Group in where I am a co-chair for the humanitarian part. This,
you know, the U.S. and Russian cooperation, pulling together is a precondition for everything. But it is not sufficient. We also need the
government, the armed opposition groups, the regional powers, including Saudi Arabia and Iran and Turkey and others, to also pull in the same
direction, and they haven't. They have often international sponsors brought fuel to this fire. And those paying the price are the civilians.
13.5 million civilians in Syria now need our help. I cannot remember such a number of people on the brink of the abyss, if you like, you know, in
GOLANI: Now, are there at least discussions ongoing with the government, with parties on the ground, in order to get other parts of Syria that are
under siege some necessary aid? Is there progress anywhere, and if so, where?
EGELAND: Well, yes, every single month we reach some places. We reached one place this month called Alwar which, by the way, is horrifically bombed
at the same time. That was out of reach for three months. But I think the small, you know, suburb of Damascus called Daraya is a symbol of how cruel
this conflict has been. They were starved for, you know, four years, continuously, basically. And then, you know, a few days ago they gave up.
And they are now evacuated. Daraya is without people at the moment.
[15:10:00] GORANI: Yeah. Well, Daraya, a lot of people said they weren't defeated. They were betrayed. They were betrayed by the world's community
that watched them starve for four years. And now there is concern that the people who are allowed out might be in danger. Because they are civilians
in rebel held territories in danger of being themselves persecuted or hurt. Are you worried for the civilians of Daraya?
EGELEND: What we must make sure as international community which in many ways failed the people of Daraya, I agree with you. We have to follow-up
those who are in the various parts of Syria. Many, as you well know, were evacuated to Idlib, where there is armed opposition groups in control.
Others, again, are in community shelters where we can, I think, reach them. We need to have a watchful eye on this.
GORANI: All right, certainly a watchful eye on those who have gone through so much. Jan Egeland, thank you very much for joining us from Oslo, Norway
EGELAND: Thank you.
GORANI: . with more on this deteriorating situation in Syria.
Well speaking of Syria, we want to return to our breaking news this hour. ISIS announcing that one of its top spokesman has been killed in Aleppo.
Mohammed al-Adnani was the terror group's most public face. Our U.S Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto has across this story and he's live from
All right. So, do we know -- we know that ISIS is announcing Adnani is dead. Do we now how you got it?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF U.S. SECURITY CORRESPODENT: We don't know. They say it was during operations in and around Aleppo. No confirmation yet
certainly from western officials at this point, though, they're aware of the reports this is a dangerous areas. So it's very plausible. But you
don't have the confirmation that you'd want to have for U.S. officials to say that they -- or other western officials to say that this is indeed
true. But you do have the group announcing it itself. And if it is proven to be true, Hala, I don't think we can overestimate the importance of this.
He is both the public face, the message man, the one who helped advertise ISIS's most brutal crimes, the beheadings, the suicide bombings. But he
also was believed to have an operational role, that he was, if not the man behind, the leader behind, one of those behind dispatching ISIS fighters
into the West to carry out acts of terror. So this loss would be significant.
Now, on the flip side of that, ISIS has lost other senior leaders before, ISIS and other terror groups, and then replaced them. It certainly doesn't
end the group or the movement. But operationally, and in terms of their messaging reach, this would at least be a significant blow.
GORANI: Well, how important was his role in terms of dispatching or encouraging operations outside of ISIS controlled territory? Terror
attacks such as the ones that took place here in Paris or in Nice?
SCIUTTO: Well, this is the question. There were accounts from members of ISIS, captured members of ISIS, that he was directly involved in
dispatching them to the West. In fact that he personally gave the orders to do so to them face-to-face, there are accounts of these. It doesn't
mean he's the only one who did it but there is evidence there were accounts that he played a direct role in that.
And I don't think we should underestimate the power of ISIS messaging either. We often talked about this that the part of their success, really,
their reach, is there ability to get their message out far and wide in a way that motivates young people to join the group .
SCIUTTO: . and carry out acts of violence on its part. Even members who never step foot into Syria or Iraq who do this in effect long distance,
inspired online. We've had cases like this in the U.S. So to lose that skill would be enormous.
But then again, groups like ISIS have lost people in positions of power before, and they've been able to replace them. That's the sad fact of
these groups, that they often outlast their leaders.
GORANI: All right. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much for your reporting live in Washington.
And as we were discussing, the Syrian conflict is getting even more complicated as more players pile on. Here in France, the French president
is warning that could make the situation even worse. He says contradictory interventions in Syria could park a wider war if that's even possible. The
president is urging all parties to get back to peace talks. Meanwhile at home, he's still dealing with the major fallout from this.
Last night, we told you how some mayors are refusing to remove their ban on burkinis. Today, the UN's Human Rights Office says the ban does not
improve security and in fact, "fuels religious intolerance." Let's discuss this with Bernard Kouchner. He's a former French foreign minister. He's
live with me here in Paris. Always a pleasure. Thanks for being with us.
BERNARD KOUCHNER, FORMER FRENCH FOREIGN PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
GORANI: Why is the burkini, all of a sudden, the biggest fixation in France? 30 towns in the south of France have issued decrees banning it.
[15:15:02] KOUCHNER: Let me tell you that after Syria, to talk about this ridiculous story of burkini is a bit difficult.
GORANI: It's not just the story of the burkini. It's what it says about French identity .
GORANI: . about the national conversation that is happening in this country, doesn't it?
KOUCHNER: Something that you cannot understand, unfortunately. We are a secular country. Religious has nothing to say about the government of the
government -- religious has none to say in the government. This is a Republic.
KOUCHNER: So we have no right to order ladies, particularly the ladies, to be dressed in a way or another way. And the mayors were against the law
and (inaudible) .
GORANI: The highest court?
KOUCHNER: Yeah, the highest court. I mean it's .
GORANI: Yes, administrative court in France.
KOUCHNER: Yes. That they decide that it was out of flow.
GORANI: So clearly, you do not support banning the burkini?
KOUCHNER: No, certainly not.
KOUCHNER: And remember, all the mayors were banning, wanted publishing a decree to ban the burkini, they were all from the party of Sarkozy.
KOUCHNER: All of them.
GORANI: Well, there was one socialist.
KOUCHNER: And Sarkozy wants to, let's say to influence the people for the campaign, they're campaigning for a presidential election, in order to
define or to defend the French identity. He is their French identity .
KOUCHNER: . linked to burkini .
GORANI: Right. Let me read you the latest poll.
KOUCHNER: So this is ridiculous.
GORANI: Because I asked our friendly producers here. 64 percent of French people are opposed to the burkini, 6 percent are in favor of the burkini,
30 percent are indifferent. Which means two-thirds of the French are offended .
KOUCHNER: These are the polls -- are not credible.
GORANI: Yes. But I mean, you know, the polls are all repeating the same notion .
KOUCHNER: No, no.
GORANI: . that the French do not want this type of outfit.
KOUCHNER: Listen, honestly, compared to what is going on in France and compared to the coming election, burkini is just a side effect, it is
GORANI: No, but still, there is a big debate in this country about this idea of religious identity, what it means to be French, what it means to be
secular of how Muslim-French people .
KOUCHNER: To be secular is not to swear on the bible .
KOUCHNER: . and this is not to get money despite of your religion.
KOUCHNER: We -- in God we trust.
KOUCHNER: It has nothing to say .
GORANI: It's been such a political topic .
KOUCHNER: Religious is completely separate .
GORANI: No, no, but I understand the principle of secularism. But politicians, whether it's the socialist prime minister, whether it's
Nicholas Sarkozy, the ex-president, whether it's Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader, all seem to be in agreement about this.
KOUCHNER: The Prime Minister was (inaudible). He just say that it was a debate but the highest court, administrative court .
GORANI: He said it was an expression of fundamentalism. He said more than religious debate.
KOUCHNER: It is an expression of fundamentalism -- the only way to attack if you wan to attack the burkini .
KOUCHNER: . is to defend women condition. Because that's for sure very important, because this is not just a puppet, you have to be dressed like
that or you have nothing to go to the beach.
GORANI: What is a puppet?
KOUCHNER: The ladies, unfortunately.
GORANI: Oh, OK.
KOUCHNER: The Muslim ladies.
KOUCHNER: Because, second is they don't want to be wear burkini. But the men, brothers or fathers, et cetera, they impose that to the lady. That's
a good anguish.
GORANI: Although, some of them won't say this is my choice. Nobody is imposing this on me.
KOUCHNER: There are some of them. Some of them, but on millions of women, Muslim women in my country, just some of them.
GORANI: Yeah, that's true.
KOUCHNER: And the large, large majority are separately (ph) against. They want to live in this country, they want to follow, let's say, the strategy
and the rules and the culture of thier country, and they don't want to be arrest. I'm sure of that.
GORANI: You're sure of that, OK. Well, where do you get that certainty from? Let me ask you.
KOUCHNER: Because I was working since years and years either in Muslim countries or in my country (inaudible) population.
GORANI: OK. Let's talk about how the political race is shaping up before I let this go, because as I mentioned, burkini is one of the topics, but
overall, this has been extremely heated political scene season.
KOUCHNER: Because we've been attacked.
KOUCHNER: Because, of course, it was very difficult to the people to discover that they will be able to be bombed somewhere or .
GORANI: But what do the French want? Because France has suffered so much. It had major terrorist attacks at the heart -- in the heart of Paris, in
Nice and elsewhere. What do the French want their government to do about it?
KOUCHNER: I'm sorry to say that even the U.S. shouting or yelling very much, there is no way to protect the people from suicide attack.
Impossible. We did our best, and Francois Hollande did his best, and the - - with police and secret services, and the army in the street. So what? Are we able to -- and we are part of the coalition in Syria.
And when you were talking with Mr. Jan Engeland about Syria, it was a shame for us not to be very clear on what is the enemy and the other.
[15:19:59] And you didn't mention enough, sorry to say, that what is the French position or the American position facing Mr. Erdogan, the Turkish .
GORANI: Well, I was speaking with a humanitarian chief and I asked him a few questions about the political process and he was extremely, he was
GORANNI: Politically. Of course, there are many complications and complexities with regards to Mr. Egeland. He is very frustrated.
KOUCHNER: He is.
GORANI: He says essentially the politicians are not doing what they should be doing. They have failed Syria, and a lot of people are saying that.
KOUCHNER: That's the problem. And, of course, at the same time, the Turkish army was attacking the territory and killing the Kurds. In the
same time, Mr. Erdogan was allowing dash, I mean the ISIS people to cross the border with guns, et cetera. What's our opposition?
GORANI: Well .
KOUCHNER: And he is not a liar.
KOUCHNER: And what is the American strategy doing for that?
GORANI: Those are all very good questions. We hope to have you on again.
KOUCHNER: Sorry. (Inaudible) to escape from your burkini problem.
GORANI: For my burkini questions. Well, we got a few of them in there.
KOUCHNER: You want to wear burkini? I don't force you to wear that.
GORANI: Listen, I'm going to let that question -- leave that question unanswered. Bernard Kouchner, thank you very much. We always appreciate
your time. Always a lively discussion with you.
And a lot more to come this evening. It is a debate as we were mentioning about the burkini. I'll speak with people with differing views on it. And
also what's going on in France. And also the taxman cometh. European regulators take a big bite out of Apple's operations in Ireland. The
company crying foul so as the U.S. government. Stay with us. A very significant development there. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Well now, there are some dramatic rescues at sea. More than 6,000 migrants were saved from flimsy boats as they attempted to cross the
Mediterranean to reach Europe. Rescuers carried out 40 separate missions in just a 30-hour period. Men, women, children, even newborn babies were
packed onto overcrowded boats that were at risk of capsizing. The Italian coast guard says the migrants are being taken to ports in Calabria and
Let's get more now from Ben Wedeman. He's s following the story in Italy for us. And talk to us about why we are now seeing all these massive
numbers of people rescued in such a short time?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really has to do with the situation in Libya, Hala, where, really, the situation has gone to
hell in a hand basket. And as a result, western intervention followed by essentially the west dropping the ball when it comes to Libya. It's a
country that really doesn't exist. The borders are wide open. People are being transported by human traffickers from Sub-Saharan Africa to the coast
of Libya, where they fall into the hands of these unscrupulous human traffickers who essentially float them into -- out to sea, where they are
very quickly picked up by the Italian coast guard and other organizations.
[15:25:14] NGOs that are basically running rescue missions off the Libyan coast. It's the summer, the seas are calm, and this is really the peak
season when it comes to making that journey from Libya to the Italian coast. This is high season, so to speak. Hala?
GORANI: Yeah. All right. Ben Wedeman, thanks very much for that.
Now, the White House is expressing concern after E.U. regulators ordered tech giant Apple to pay almost $15 billion and unpaid taxes to Ireland.
The Press Secretary Josh Earnest even weighed in, he's saying the Obama administration will fight for American taxpayers and American businesses
overseas when they're being treated unfairly.
European regulators claim the deal with the Irish government allowed Apple to pay taxes of just 1 percent or less for years. The Apple CEO, Tim Cook
says the ruling has, "no basis in fact or law."
CNN Money Editor at Large, in fact, I should say Samuel Burke, our CNN money business and tech correspondent, joins me now with more on this. All
right, talk to me about what happen next now. They're being ordered to pay this money. They're saying they will fight it. How did we even get here?
SAMUEL BURKE, BUSINESS AND TECH CORRESPONDET: Well, Hala, it's really not as complicated as it may seem on the surface. Apple has been in Ireland
since the early '90s, using that as their basically international headquarters. And they were there because they are paying low corporate
taxes. So any time they sold MacBook or an iPhone in Europe, the Middle East, African and even India, the profits would go through there.
Ireland has a corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent. And we always assumed that they were paying less than that. But we didn't know quite how much
lower they were actually paying.
Let me just put up a list on the screen and walk you through the years as the tax rate got lower and lower for Apple in Ireland. Back in 2003, they
paid just 1 percent. In 2011, down to 0.05 percent. And by 2014, 0.005%. If I ever came to you for tax advice, Hala, clearly, I was going to the
What's so fascinating here is that everybody keeps on citing this $14.6 billion in back taxes that they have to pay now to Ireland. And actually,
it will be way more than that because it's actually interest on top of that. So we could be talking close to $20 billion when all is said and
GORANI: Well, I'm just a little confuse about why for so many years Apple was essentially paying no tax, I mean, 0.00 something percent is not paying
any tax. How did that -- I mean, how did that go unnoticed for so long?
BURKE: Well, it actually did go notice by the European commission and they've taken their sweet time according to a lot of people to investigate
I think what's interesting here is basically what the European Union is saying -- well, actually, what Ireland is saying, look, this is the
agreement that we have. And Apple has said, we were just following what the Irish were telling us to do. And Ireland says these are our tax codes.
Today, what the European Union is saying is, it doesn't work that way, that is not fair, because what you're doing is that you're making it unleveled
playing field for all the other countries in the European Union, and quite frankly, for the other companies that are in Ireland. You and I look at
that and say, 0.005 percent, that's terrible and we're just individuals. We would love to pay that little in taxes or maybe even that's too little
for some folks. But think about all the other companies there.
What's really even fascinating is Ireland saying we don't want this money because they don't want to lose Apple and the thousands of employees that
they have there.
GORANI: All right. We'll see how that develops and how Apple fights it. Samuel, thanks very much.
Lot more to come this evening, including this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Foreign language]. What do you want met to do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: What can any of us do? This is what childhood in Aleppo looks like. Tears, loss, confusion. We'll take you to meet this young boy and
his father, ahead.
And the debate on burkinis is becoming political less than a year before the French presidential election. I'll speak to two people with wildly
[15:30:42] GORANI: Welcome back. We're live in Paris. Thanks for being with us this hour on CNN. A look at our top stories before we move on.
Breaking this hour, ISIS is announcing one of its top spokesman has been killed in Aleppo in Syria. Abu Mohammad al-Adnani was the terrorist
group's most public face. You might recognize him.
It's considered unprecedented for the group to make announcement like this. His death marks the highest profile killing among the terrorist group. We
don't know exactly how he died. Was it an operation, was it air strikes? We don't know exactly the method of his death, but they're making this
announcement that he has been killed.
Also among the other top stories, Apple is being ordered to pay more than $14 billion in unpaid taxes. The European Commission says Ireland
illegally gave Apple a very low tax rate to boost its profits and keep some of the jobs it was creating. About a quarter of Apple's European employees
are based in Ireland. Apple and Ireland's government say they will appeal this ruling.
And 6,500 migrants have been rescued in the Mediterranean Sea in just 30 hours, huge numbers compared to the last few months. Most are from sub-
Saharan Africa. They're just some of the 260,000 who have made the perilous journey across the sea to Europe this year. The migrants are
being taken to ports in Southern Italy.
Lastly in our headlines, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment trial is entering its final stage. Senators have been giving speeches
ahead of a final vote. It will happen early Wednesday. On Monday, Ms. Rousseff took the stand, she called the process a power grab by her rivals.
Who thought that the most burning issue of the summer in France would be what Muslim women wear on the beach? Today the U.N.'s high Commission for
Human Rights blasted the move by some French towns.
It says a ban fuels religious intolerance and does little to improve France's security situation. Some mayors are refusing to budge on the
issue, though, as more than 30 French towns ban the swimwear on their beaches.
Late last week the country's highest court ruled that the mayors have no right to outlaw burkinis. We are going to discuss this with two people on
different sides of this debate.
Let's bring first, Yasser Louati, is a French human rights and civil liberties activist and he is live with me here in Paris. You must have
been happy, Yasser, when the French court ruled that the ban needed to be lifted.
YASSER LOUATI, FRENCH CIVIL LIBERTY ACTIVIST: I wasn't that much happy, I was more like, we have to go all the way to the highest authorities in
France just to grant women the right to dress how they wish on public beaches?
And the fact that we have several mayors who decided to go against the decision and to continue implementing this ban shows that the rule of law
applies to the powerful in France, who can use the law however they wish.
GORANI: I discussed this with (inaudible), some of the latest polls, and he said he didn't believe the poll numbers, but quite frankly they come up
again and again, 64 percent of the French people say they are opposed to wearing a burkini on a public beach. Of French people, 30 percent say they
are indifferent. What do you make of those numbers though?
[15:35:10]LOUATI: These are the results of 15 years of mainstreamization of Islamophobia in France. When you have constantly anti-Muslim rhetoric
being held up in the public sphere by politicians, by various academics and intellectuals, constantly upholding the idea that Muslims are trying to
implement their own ideas that they don't want to adhere to French values. That they are a threat and the enemy within, after 15 years, people become
scared of their own neighbors and work mates.
GORANI: But why are there more women, and this is absolutely an undeniable trend in the Muslim communities in France, more and more women wearing head
scarves, more and more women wanting to way outfits like the burkini? Why is this outward expression symbol of belonging to the Muslim faith becoming
LOUATI: We'll have to ask them first, I'm a man so I can't speak on their behalf. Second, we definitely have rising visibility of French Muslims,
that's a good sign. That means they feel at home, this is their country, and they should dress however they wish as long as they don't impose their
ideas upon others.
The fact that we have had a series of laws specifically targeting Muslims, the 2004 ban against the hijab in public schools, the debate over hijab in
universities, et cetera. Women are now saying, you know what, I'm going to wear this whether you like or not.
GORANI: So you are opposed to the ban on full face veils, the niqab, do you think that goes against a woman's right to dress any way she wants?
LOUATI: I think we should have asked the women who are wearing it why they wear it. Again, we had white males deciding on minority women, and ruling
directly against them. We issued a law against 400 or 500 women, but we could not issue a law on taxes in France.
GORANI: Yes, but that's another point. But there is a lot of people see full face veils as a different thing.
LOUATI: If women want to wear something, are you going to legislate against that?
GORANI: So you equate those two things, the full face veil or the Burkini and a mini skirt, you think all of that is on the same spectrum?
LOUATI: I think women shouldn't be on the ideological battlefields. Honestly, you ask what they want and if they tell you this is how I want to
dress, let them be.
GORANI: Are you worried in France about rising tensions, though? We see it in Corsica, Muslim French people and other Corsicans fighting. We're
seeing a lot of hostility between communities not just directed at Muslims but Muslims directing them at other French people.
LOUATI: And that's the result of years of irresponsible policies. When you have politicians from the right and the left igniting fire between
different communities and constantly using identity debates to turn French people against one another.
GORANI: Is the responsibility not shared here?
LOUATI: I think it comes from the top. Racism is injected by the elites and then it comes down and we see the result in everyday life. French
elites are overwhelmingly racist and they maintain these racist views, which translates in violence in everyday life.
GORANI: OK, Yasser Louati, those are strong words, I know some people would disagree with you on the fact that French intellectuals are
necessarily racist, but what's interesting is that we get your point of view --
LOUATI: I did not say all. I said some of them and some of the most influential. Many of them are good. The overwhelming majority is good,
GORANI: OK, thank you for that clarification. Yasser Louati, we really appreciate your time here with us this evening. The burkini ban has become
a major issue in French politics as the country gears up for next year's presidential election. It's become a political hot potato.
That the country's former president, Nicholas Sarkozy, is planning another run for office. He supports the ban. Mr. Sarkozy's main rival so far is
Alan Jupee, striking a more inclusive tone.
The mayor of Bordeaux says he will not exploit fears over Islam and reached out to the country's Muslim population. This comes as France's interior
minister says he wants the religion to be more integrated in the values of the republic. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNARD CAZENEUVE, FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): We need slam to have its two feet in the republic, who speaks to all of the Muslims
of France to say they first belong to the republic, and that by defending this belonging, that we can guarantee the possibility of tolerance and
fraternity to all others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Now Caroline Fourest is a feminist and political commentator here in France. Thank you for being with us. You did not want to appear with
Yasser Louati in a debate, why not?
CAROLINE FOUREST, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because I am one of the intellectuals that his previous organization is targeting all the time as
Islamophobic. I am for equality attacking all the time national front for racism and because he is coming from an organization where they are
claiming that a woman going out without a veil should be abused.
[15:40:12]And I really found that in this climate, when we are all targeted by a really, really hard guy, giving a promotion of this type of speech,
depicting France like a horrible country where the Muslim are almost killed in the streets.
Did you notice that since the terrorist attacks, and we have had many, there was not crimes against Muslims like this organization is saying.
GORANI: Two Muslim women were thrown out of a restaurant for ordering a meal on the outskirts of Paris.
FOUREST: This is discrimination that you can face in almost every country in the world, to be fair.
GORANI: Yes, well --
FOUREST: I do agree that --
GORANI: But to say there is no hate directed at Muslims in France.
FOUREST: I'm speaking about real crimes, what happened after 9/11, women were attacked in the street, where people have been killed because they
were Muslims. I'm crossing my fingers, yet, we're not there. We are having a debate about the burkini.
GORANI: It's a debate that reveals a wider issue, isn't it? I mean, the reason people are focusing on the burkini isn't because of the piece of
cloth. It's because of what the wider national conversation is between the huge Muslim community in France and the wider citizenry of this country.
FOUREST: Can I say that, for example, those who want to wear a burkini are not representative of the majority of Muslims in France, who are very
secularist, you can see the polls, who are also very wary of this increasing fundamentalism.
I opposed the ban by the mayors. The beach is a free place. It's not a public school. You cannot ban everything you don't like. So as a
Democrat, I did oppose the ban. As a feminist, I want to stay free to critique the burkini without being accused of being Islamophobic.
GORANI: For a lot of women, especially women who wear the burkini, it's an outfit they've worn for a while whether it was before --
FOUREST: It's quite new.
GORANI: It is new. It's about ten years old, but there were other ways to cover on the beaches. They would say, why is it anyone else's problem but
mine? Why does it mean I'm a fundamentalist?
FOUREST: This is a stupid comment for a conservative mayor. I'm just saying if you think that you have to cover completely your body because if
you're not, you're not pure enough or you're going to attract sexual attention, and that you do not apply that to men, only to women, this is
obviously a sexist way to see bodies.
You have the right to be sexist, you have the right to be traditionalist and I have to accept it and I have to go on the beach with you. I'm a
GORANI: I get that. Let me ask you about the specific French case, because I live in London where women are actually allowed to wear full
niqabs, you don't see anything but the slit for the eyes. None of that is illegal. Why is France fixated on legislating and outlawing and trying to
FOUREST: It will take more than two minutes to explain the whole story. Please don't think all the time this is just about Islam. If you look one
century ago, we did exactly the same about Catholic fundamentalism. This is an old story of France, to preserve the republic from some
The law with forbidding the full scarf in the street is not either in the name of secularism, it's for security reasons. It's not targeting scarf
only. It's just forbidding everyone who want to cover his face for security reasons.
And finally, the law about public schools, this is a law I am supporting, because this is a public school, it's a secularist public school where you
have to learn equality between men and women and citizenship.
If you want to wear the veil, nobody goes to jail, you're free to wear the veil, but you can go to a private school. You cannot compare the
situation, it is complex to understand from overseas.
To an oppressive regime who are forcing women to veil themselves, and they are discriminating. This is happening in Syria and Iraq and many
countries. As a French feminist what makes me pissed off is to compare the situations.
[15:45:08]GORANI: All right, Caroline Fourest, thanks for your take. We really appreciate having you on, and all the diversity of voices we've had
on as well, it's been fast narrating.
This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW on CNN. Growing fresh life in a city full of death. Next, we'll take you inside Aleppo to meet its last gardener. Stay
GORANI: Back to Syria now where it's all too easy to become immune to the scenes of devastation we see from there. Today we take you to one corner
of rebel-held Aleppo where a father and son tried to survive. Channel 4 brings us their story in their own words.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): He's called Abu Wad. It means father of the flower and his young son, Ibrahim. For five years of hellish war,
this pocket of serenity has been perhaps the most amazing survivor in Aleppo. Abu Wad runs the city's last garden center.
But Abu Wad's world is in rebel-held Aleppo and has been bombed relentlessly by the Syrian regime and now the Russians. We met during a
lull in the bombing earlier this year. Of the million people who lived in this part of the city, just 250,000 remain. And throughout this time, Abu
Wad hasn't stopped gardening.
Aleppo was one of the great cultural beauties of the world and one of the longest inhabitants. Today, so much of this has been laid waste, and
thousands have been killed. Abu Wad's whole existence seems dedicated to the beauty of life.
This customer chooses rosemary plants, not for remembrance as much as resistance. Some Aleppans buy the flowers and plant them on roundabout the
in the city, small islands of vitality, and surely a comfort to those who by choice or lack of it, remain in Aleppo.
Because to live here is to live every day with grief. The 13-year-old Ibrahim gave up school to stay close to his dad. He helps in the garden
center, but is clearly weighed down by the worries of war.
Freshly-cut flowers in the middle of Aleppo's war seems too extraordinary to believe. It didn't last. In the final days of May, six weeks after we
met, the intense bombing by the Syrian regime and Russia began again. A bomb landed near the garden center.
Abu Wad was hit and died immediately. The nursery is closed. Nobody comes to buy flowers anymore. And this is where Abu Wad, the gardener of Aleppo,
is buried with no blooms to decorate the graves. Without his dad, Ibrahim seems lost.
In time, perhaps he will remember how his father described the cycle of life.
GORANI: We're live in Paris, France, the country at a crossroads, of course, multiple terrorist attacks have shaken the country, and a debate
about banning a Muslim swimwear has ignited passions.
[15:55:09]Let's speak to someone who has been looking at French society for decades, our own, Jim Bittermann. And the political season, Jim, is
heating up and this burkini thing, people call it a silly topic, but for a silly topic, people have been talking about it quite a lot at the highest
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly right. It was a silly topic until people started expressing themselves, like ex-
President Sarkozy and others, who've taken on board as an issue. This is an uncertain time for the French.
I mean, they're coming back from their vacations, maybe a little grumpy to be back. All of a sudden they see one of the top government ministers
resigned. It's clear that President Hollande is a lame duck president from this point onward with the elections next May.
There's disarray on the left and the right politically. Socially there's disarray. From a terrorist standpoint there's a lot of fear in the streets
because we've had a terrible summer here, 86 people mowed down in Nice, a priest killed saying mass, a police officer and his wife killed in their
homes by a terrorist.
So people are really on edge here I think in a lot of ways. It doesn't manifest itself all the time. Tonight there's people in the cafes and
whatnot. When you get an issue like the burkini or something like that comes around, people are galvanized.
GORANI: I get the sense as well that the country is on edge, and it wouldn't take much for the situation to deteriorate very quickly. God
forbid another attack or any kind incident that would spark really what seems like a fuse that's just waiting to be lit.
BITTERMANN: There's a lot of aggressiveness in the air. We had the incident in the restaurant a couple of days ago. It's hot, too. Even at
the European level, Brexit, the European institutions are being called into question, is the E.U. going to survive. NATO now, the whole idea that
Turkey is going off as a wild card NATO member. There's so much uncertainty out there. I think it's really put people on edge.
GORANI: It's France, Britain, the U.S., the Middle East, uncertainty all around, and yes, who knows what tomorrow will bring? But we'll be here to
cover it. Jim Bittermann, our senior international correspondent, thanks very much.
I'm Hala Gorani. We've been live from Paris. Thanks for being with us. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next on CNN.