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Sri Lanka Bans Wearing of Burqa; Lone Wolf Shooter Attacks Mosque in California; Cyclone Kenneth Devastated Mozambique; Veracruz, Mexico Calls for Justice; William Barr Fights with House Democrats; Socialist Party Won in Spain's General Election; Parents Outrage About New Curriculum; Egypt's Tourism Industry Booming; Avengers Endgame, A Movie Worth Watching. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 29, 2019 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A devastating tragedy at a California synagogue. The Jewish community there mourns together after a gunman opens fire during Passover services.

Plus, Sri Lanka remains on high alert as raids across the country are trying to find all of the militants responsible for the deadly Easter bombings.

And it is the filmmaking fans go crazy, avoiding all spoilers, we will tell you all about why it's made $1 billion in just one weekend.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. From the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, CNN newsroom starts right now.

Well, Southern California is in mourning after Saturday's deadly attack at a synagogue. Jews and members of other faiths have come together. This after a gunman killed one person and wounded three others in the city of Poway.

The attack came as Jews marked the end of Passover, and it could have been even worse. This woman is being praised as a hero for giving her life to save others. Lori Kaye was shot after stepping between the gunman and the rabbi. The rabbi survived and described the attack on Sunday.


YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, WOUNDED IN ATTACK: I walked two, three footsteps when I hear a loud bang. I thought Lori may have fell or the table tipped over in the lobby right here. I turn around, and I see a sight that I -- indescribable.

Here is a young man standing with a rifle pointing right at me. And I look add him. He had sunglasses on. I couldn't see his eyes. I couldn't see his soul. I froze. My first concern was what's with Lori? Where did that noise come from? What happened to Lori? And as soon as I did that, I took a look and more shots came running right at me, and I lifted up my hands. I lost my index finger on this hand.

After four hours of surgery yesterday, trying to save the index finger on the left hand. I turned around and I saw the children that were playing in the banquet hall. I ran to gather them together.

My granddaughter, four and a half years old, sees her grandpa with a bleeding hand, and she sees me screaming and shouting get out, get out. She didn't deserve to see her grandfather like this.

And I walked into the lobby and I see Lori laying on the floor, unconscious, and her dear husband, Dr. Howard Kaye, who is like a brother to me, is trying to resuscitate her and he faints and he's laying there on the floor next to his wife. And then their daughter Hannah comes up screaming, daddy and mommy what's going on? It's the most heart wrenching sight I could have seen.


CHURCH: Just so horrifying. And that was Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. A 19-year-old suspect is now custody. Investigators believe he acted alone.

We turn now to Sri Lanka where the country's president is banning burqas some Muslim women wear in the wake of the deadly Easter bombings. He calls them a security risk and a flag of fundamentalism.

Meantime, the country is still on high alert as police believe more attacks could be planned in the coming days by the same perpetrators thought to be behind the bombings.

More than 250 people were killed in those suicide attacks. And at least 48 suspects have been arrested as part of a nationwide operation so far. Police think a local extremist group, NTJ, may be behind the bombings, even though ISIS has claimed responsibility.

And CNN's Nikhil Kumar joins me now from Colombo, Sri Lanka with more on this. So, Nikhil, what is the latest on this hunt for more suspects as the country remains on high alert, fearing there might be more attacks.

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Rosemary. There is a very, very palpable fear here in Sri Lanka. You mentioned the 48, close to 50 people arrested since Saturday night.

[03:05:01] On Friday, we had a shootout in eastern Sri Lanka when police raided some safe houses. They uncovered a massive haul of explosives, 150 explosive sticks, 100,000 ball bearings, a drone, ISIS flags, other paraphernalia.

All of which underline something we've been talking about and observers have been highlighting ever since those Easter Sunday bombings, which shows the sophistication of this terror cell, now linked to this local terror group that the police here and the security services here are going after.

So. in the aftermath of that, the fear here is very, very palpable. The country remains on high alert, which is why yesterday one week on from those attacks the Christian community here was told not to go back to the churches for Sunday services.

Instead, the archbishop here in Colombo held a private service at his house. The president, the prime minister, the leader of the opposition all attended. It was televised live, the homily on national television over here in Sri Lanka so worshippers could join in from the safety of their own home because the threat is still very, very real.

Three Sri Lankan M.P.'s have told CNN at their security details have received warnings of further attacks. So, everyone on very high alert, even as the communities here try and mourn.

And of course, you mentioned the ban on the burqa, which the president announced yesterday, comes into force today, another step that authorities here are taking to try to get ahead of this threat and nab any perpetrators who may still be out there. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Nikhil, you mentioned that burqa ban. What's been the reaction to that and what's behind all of that?

KUMAR: Well, Rosemary, the president's office says that this was done to make it easier for the security services who are out there hunting for potential terrorists, to make it easier for them to recognize the people that they're looking for.

Now, the top body of Islamic clerics in this country, they've in fact endorsed this move. They say that they support it because they support the security operation to stamp out this terror threat.

Remember, this is a country that over almost three decades went through a devastating civil war when communities were cleaved apart. And the thing that everybody is saying now from the Muslim community, from the Christian community, Hindus, Buddhists, people we've spoken to over the last week that have been here reporting this story, they don't want that process of reconciliation and the aftermath of the end of that war, they don't want that to be compromised.

So, everyone's backing this now as they are backing other measures to try and catch everybody connected to this local group that the authorities say engineered those attacks.

So, right now this is being supported and everybody is doing whatever they can to deal with the threat to make sure that it is contained, even as, as I said earlier, even as they try and mourn what happened and try to remember those people that they've lost. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Exactly right. Nikhil Kumar bringing us up to date on the very latest there from the streets of Colombo in Sri Lanka. Many thanks.

Well, for more, I'm joined now from Portland, Oregon, by Randy Blazak, he is the chairman of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime and a sociologist. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, we are witnessing an increasing number of hate crimes like this targeting places of worship, the churches in Sri Lanka, the synagogues in California and Pennsylvania, the mosques in New Zealand, and many more other examples. What is behind these violent and hate- filled crimes and why are we seeing more of them, do you think?

BLAZAK: Yes, I mean, it's time to really start putting this in a global perspective. We're not really seeing just something that's happening in the United States or any particular country. We're seeing a global trend towards nationalism.

There is a rejection of globalization and the complexity of the global market for these kinds of nationalist movements, whether it's Brexit in England or Hindu nationalism in India. People are pulling up the drawbridges and wrapping themselves in the flags and engaged in more of this violence targeted at the other.

People were perceived to be either the causes of the international changes in their country or the conspirators behind globalization. So, you get both targeting of Muslim immigrants, Jews who are believed to be part of some global conspiracy, the media has been a target, and it's really this kind of overwhelming rejection of globalization in favor of these pseudo fascist nationalist movements.

CHURCH: Why do you think that's happening, though? Do you think leaders are helping to fuel that way of thinking?

BLAZAK: Yes, I mean, this has been the big issue, that the leaders aren't necessarily the cause of it. They're kind of a manifestation of this nationalistic trend, but they are adding fuel to this fire that will ultimately leave the world in ashes.

I mean, there is this real hyping of this nationalist rhetoric. That whether or not they intend to, they're really fueling a lot of these people who are kind of in the margins and not able to comprehend the complexity of the world at the moment and they find solace on the internet, they find solace in the underground, they find solace kind of in the notion of armed revolution and solving problems through hypermasculine violent means.

[03:10:07] And so I'm afraid to say that that we're looking at a lot more of these types of attacks until we get a handle on how to help people manage the complexity of the modern world.

CHURCH: We did, though, all witness the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, take the lead after the deadly shootings at two mosques in March this year in her country, reaching out to the Muslim community in a way few other leaders have ever done.

And we've also seen some religious leaders unite in the aftermath of attacks on synagogues, mosques and churches in the United States and elsewhere, it has to be said, but these are rare events, aren't they? What will it take for other leaders --


CHURCH: -- but what will take it, though, for other leaders across the globe to do the same and what difference could that make if they do that?

BLAZAK: It can make a big difference because we have to have people willing to kind of be less defensive. We've been using this term fragility a lot lately. We've got a lot of fragile leaders who want to kind of build walls as opposed to opening doors and kind of acknowledging some of the mistakes of the past.

And so, the road map we have for former members of extremist groups, whether they're Jihadists or white supremacists, who have come out of that movement have told us the way they came out is because the people they were taught to hate actually opened their hands and their hearts to them and kind of gave them permission not to hate these people.

And so, we know how to do it. We just have to have good leadership that can follow that path. That can be, you know, a little bit vulnerable in a time when everybody wants to kind of be in a defensive position. And I think that's the way out.

CHURCH: Right. And it's important to look at those ways out. How do you think these perpetrators of hate crimes like this explain and justify their own actions? Is it all about revenge and taking vengeance on those who have attacked their people? And so, we have this endless cycle?

BLAZAK: Yes, I mean, it's really this sort of simplistic way of looking at the world, this us versus them binary. And they get pulled in. And they get pulled in because they're finding their analysis online. They're finding their analysis from extremists and they're not really engaging in the world as we know it, the way that most people are.

And so, there is this kind of petri dish of extremism that happens while these people withdraw from the world and find their community online, and then it magnifies it. And then all of a sudden there is this justification for violence. What they see as their global holy war that leads them to commit these acts of violence and they believe that they're justified in doing it.

CHURCH: Hopefully we will see better leadership across the globe --


CHURCH: -- on this particular issue to help people realize this isn't the path we want to go down. Randy Blazak, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

BLAZAK: Pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, the impact of Cyclone Kenneth is still being felt four days after it made landfall in Southeastern Africa. The storm has left at least nine people dead, five in Mozambique and four in neighboring Comoros off the Mozambique coast. For Mozambique, it is the second major disaster in as many months.

CNN's Rick Folbaum has the details.

RICK FOLBAUM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the second time in six weeks, Mozambique is wallowing in water after a powerful storm blew across its borders. Cyclone Kenneth with winds gusting at 280 kilometers an hour made landfall on Thursday, but officials say more rain and with it more misery is on the way.


DANIEL TIMME, SPOKESMAN, UNICEF MOZAMBIQUE: We are expecting major flooding in the end of the rainy season now because the rivers are already swollen and the soil is just saturated.


FOLBAUM: More than 30,000 people from high-risk areas have already evacuated, according to the U.N. Officials are advising others to move to higher ground. As the lingering rains, which could last through Monday, pose new threats to areas already devastated by the initial impact of the storm.


TIMME: Houses are destroyed. Thousands of people again are in temporary shelters in school buildings, in churches that have not been untouched, and now they need again urgent assistance.


FOLBAUM: Aid agencies were already struggling to keep up with the demand for food, water and medicine is in Southern Africa after Cyclone Idai hit the region in March, killing hundreds of people. Entire cities in Mozambique were cut off. And the country is still reeling from a cholera outbreak and the loss of vital crops. Officials worry the new storm might strain the system.


JENS LAERKE, SPOKESMAN, UNOCHA: Cyclone Kenneth may require a major new humanitarian operation at the same time that the ongoing cyclone response targeting three million people in three countries remain critically underfunded.


FOLBAUM: A need for help that could continue to grow in a country that is already weary from weathering the storms.

[03:15:02] Rick Folbaum, CNN.

CHURCH: Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is back with us with more details on this situation. Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know, what is left of Kenneth, Rosemary, still a very slow-moving system. It is no longer a tropical feature with the rainfall is absolutely still there. The flooding concern remains very high.

You got to keep in mind. This part of the world, on average, once every nine years do we see a tropical system of category one equivalent winds. And we had two now in six weeks' time, the damage of course across Pemba, population, 200,000 people.

There's Idai making landfall around Beira since six weeks ago, that region, of course, hit with a billion dollars in losses from a storm system that was really slow to move.

Unfortunately, with Kenneth it's playing in a very similar way, it's becoming a very slow, remnant feature. And this storm that northern when Kenneth came ashore at category four equivalent winds, the strongest we've ever observed across this portion of the world.

So, the perspective on satellite imagery any time you see these oranges, you see the purples, that's indicative of high cloud tops, meaning some thunderstorms are prevalent across this region. And of course, that's heavy rainfall across some of these areas as well. And that's the concern moving forward.

The best estimates we have for how much rain has come down across this region when you look at satellite drive information, generally 300 to 500 millimeters, which that's about a foot to a foot and a half of rainfall in four days' time.

Now when you look at the climatological norm, you see that this is the tail end of the wet season. We work our way into the dry season typically so we know the river levels across this of the world are already very high. So, any additional rainfall is going to be problematic.

And unfortunately, with this remnant feature that is so slow to move, another half a meter of rainfall or another foot-plus is expected over the next couple of days across this region, which almost would be about a year's worth of rainfall in a week's time if everything materializes across the area.

But you see, damage done. Impact left in place here. Upwards of a million people either affected or displaced by the storm system. Some 30,000 properties also destroyed by the storm system.

And you continue to see thunderstorms at the northern Mozambique the next couple of days with the rainfall amounts expected to be very heavy at times.

So, Rosemary, certainly a story that you don't want to see, especially considering a billion dollars in losses or 10 percent of Mozambique's GDP was left in place across that region to the south and now a slow- moving system still raining all across this region to the north.

CHURCH: Yes. You're right. Thank you so much, Pedram. I appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, the White House is putting up a fight when it comes to dealing with the U.S. House of Representatives. And that fight may escalate, thanks to the U.S. attorney general. We'll explain when we come back.



CHURCH: Well, the White House battle against congressional oversight may intensify this week.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to appear before the House judiciary committee Thursday to discuss the Mueller report. But a source tells CNN Barr objects to committee lawyers joining in the questioning and he is threatening not to show up if that doesn't change.

Barr is also opposed to a closed session with committee members to discuss the full report.

The House judiciary committee chairman said if Barr refuses to testify, the committee will subpoena him.

Well, for more on this, James Davis joins us from now St. Gallen, Switzerland. He is the dean of the school of economics and political science at the University there. Good to have you with us. Can you hear me? Can you hear me, sir? OK. I think we've lost him. We'll try to reestablish communication with him a little later. All right.

So, let's -- in the meantime, while we try to get contact with him again, let's move on and turn to Mexico, where a deadly crisis is plaguing the coastal state of Veracruz. Hundreds of people are being killed there in a new wave of violence, the latest victim, the 25- year-old mayor of a small town.

CNN's Rafael Romo reports.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A candlelight vigil for a woman whose untimely death has left an entire town in mourning. Maricela Vallejo Orea was shot to death as she was traveling on a highway near Mixtla de Altamirano, a small town in the Mexican state of Veracruz where the 25-year-old was the mayor. Her husband and their driver were also killed.

Cries for justice can be heard around the state of Veracruz. The mayor's death happened only days after an armed attack at a party that left 13 dead, including a one-year-old baby.

A brother-in-law of one of the victims said he had been threatened months before the shooting. Veracruz, located on the Gulf of Mexico, continues to be plagued by a wave of violence. According to government figures, there were nearly 700 homicides in the state between January and March. The state's governor is asking for support from Mexico's newly-created

a National Guard. The federal government has responded by sending soldiers and increasing security in state highways.

Reacting to the violence, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said violent crime is the result of failed economic policies, as well as corruption of past governments which robbed the Mexican people.

He took office in December, promising among other things a reduction in crime. But in the first three months of this year, nearly 8,500 people were murdered in Mexico, an increase of just over 10 percent compared to the same period last year.

Veracruz has been for years the epicenter of a turf war between criminal gangs, a bloody conflict that seems to have no end.

Rafael Romo, CNN.

[03:25:00] CHURCH: All right. We have reestablished contact with James Davis, who joins us now from St. Gallen, Switzerland. He is the dean of the school of economics and political science at the University of St. Gallen. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: Wonderful. So glad you can hear me.

DAVIS: Thank you.

CHURCH: All right. So, Attorney General Bill Barr isn't happy with the committee's format and is threatening not to appear --


DAVIS: It's frustrating.

CHURCH: Why do you think he's so unhappy about being questioned by committee lawyers?

All right. We've lost him again. OK. We'll see whether the third time is the charm. Let's move on and take a break.

But before that, just want to give you an idea, heads up on what we'll be covering. The people of Spain have voted, but with the country's political divide deeper than ever, it will take a lot of work to form a functioning coalition. That is next.


CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and, of course, all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's check the headlines this hour.

In the city of Poway, California, is mourning after Saturday's attack on a synagogue. Survivors are speaking out about the shooting which killed one person. The rabbi wounded in the attack says the gunman was wearing sunglasses. He looked at the shooter but says he, quote, "couldn't see his eyes. I couldn't see his soul."

It's been just over a week since the deadly bombings in Sri Lanka, and the country remains on high alert with government warnings that more attacks could be imminent.

Meantime, Sri Lanka's president is banning burqas, calling them a security risk and a flag of fundamentalism.

[03:30:05] More than 270 election workers have died from illnesses related to overwork following the April 17th vote in Indonesia. According to CNN Indonesia, the election chief admits the tight timeline to deliver results and holding presidential and legislative elections simultaneously were partly to blame.

Well, Spain's socialist party is celebrating its election victory. It won the most parliamentary seats in Sunday's hotly-contested general election but fell short of an outright majority, so now it's on to the hard task of forming a governing coalition, something Spain has never had to do before, and it might not be easy because the country's political divide is deeper than ever.

We turn to Isa Soares who joins us now from London. Good to see you, Isa. So, Spain's socialist party won the most seats but still has to form a governing coalition. How difficult will that task be and who might they turn to?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Rosemary.

Yes, extremely divisive election. I just came from Spain. I was there all last week, in fact, to really get a gauge of the political landscape and particular look at the rise of Vox.

But like you clearly said, we've got the socialist party of Pedro Sanchez gaining 123 seats. That is not enough, Rosemary, for a majority. So now he'll be looking at really try to form alliances with small regional parties. They need 170 seats in a -- 176 in a 350-seat parliament.

They'll be looking at the likes of Podemos from the left wing. Also. perhaps a smaller regional party. Even at the Catalans. Now, the Catalan party may be complicated because Pedro Sanchez called that general election because the Catalans would not back Pedro Sanchez's budget when it came in spring. So, we're in this situation because of the Catalans.

So, if in fact Pedro Sanchez can do without the Catalans, in terms of backing up supporting, propping up his party, even better. Because what the Catalan wants from Pedro Sanchez is, in fact, a referendum on the question of independence for Catalonia.

So, Pedro Sanchez no doubt will be looking to form an alliance of the left looking at those small regional parties. The question then remains, Rosemary, whether trying to push any legislation will be slighter harder than what he would hope. The other alternative is perhaps going more to the right, to go to the

center part perhaps with the likes of Ciutands, the Citizens party. That's -- they've got a significant amount of votes. But yesterday listening to the crowds for the socialist party, Rosemary, a lot of people were saying no to Rivera. Rivera is the leader of Citizens party.

People do not want to see really Sanchez supporting citizens. And in fact, citizens have said -- Citizens Party said they do not want an alliance with the main party, socialist party.

So, all to lay for but no doubt I think it's fair to say that the socialists will be looking to go to the left, looking at small regional party. But what we have right here is a very fractured political landscape.

In part, Rosemary, because of Vox, that populist far-right party that gained 24 seats. The first far-right party to gain seats in Spanish elections since 1975, since the death of the dictator Francisco Franco. This is a big gain for them. They did not do, as well as many thought, but it's a significant than in 2006. They had not .4 percent of the vote. Today they have almost in 10 percent of the seats.

So, it's quite a significant gain for them. But a very fractured political right because of Vox, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And so just very quickly, how likely is this process of trying to form a governing coalition going to take since it's never been done before and you talk about this very deep political divide.

SOARES: Yes. Well, it could take anything up to weeks. But of course, if it takes longer than two months, Rosemary, then we're looking really at perhaps a fourth general election, the fourth, in fact, in four years. It's something that no doubt Pedro Sanchez who does not want so he will be working very hard to work with these alliances.

Podemos of the left have already said and said throughout they're willing to join alliance with the socialists, but that leaves I think a Sanchez roughly 11 seats short, so perhaps they're looking at the Basque party, the smaller regional party to see whether they can prop up his government.

But what we have seen in Spain in fact with Vox for various reasons, in fact, is a rise of the far-right because in part of what we see called the traditional parties in Spain. The P.P. the popular party of the right. A lot of talk of course in terms of charges regarding to questions of corruption scandals. That fractured the right. The rival of Vox fractured the right again.

[03:34:57] And the fear, this is critical here, Rosemary, the fear of the far-right party turn people to the polls, forced people to go to the polls and forced people to turn to the left. This what the far- right has done in Spain, people voting in droves to the left and that's what we have seen, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. We'll watch to see what happens in the next couple of weeks if that's how long it takes.


CHURCH: Isa Soares, many thanks. Joining us live from London. I appreciate it.

Well, some parents in Birmingham, England are up in arms over new classroom materials being presented to small schoolchildren. The curriculum called No Outsiders in Our School is meant to teach tolerance, but angry parents say the lessons go too far in discussing gender identity and sexual orientation with children as young as four.

CNN's Milena Veselinovic has our report.

MILENA VESELINOVIC, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Angry protests in front of a primary school in Birmingham Central England. The community demanding that the school stops teaching children about the existence of same- sex relationships and gay rights.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want our beliefs protected.



VESELINOVIC: Amir Ahmed is one of the leaders of the protest campaign.


AMIR AHMED, PROTEST ORGANIZER: We basically feel that the school has been proselytizing homosexuality on to our -- on our children and has been changing their moral position on it.


VESELINOVIC: The lessons are part of a broader curriculum promoting equality and diversity called No Outsiders in Our School. It's not compulsory but schools that adopted teach pupils ages four to 11 about different races, religions, gender identity and sexual orientation. A key point of contention for the protesters.


AHMED: In this community, you know, in terms of sexual relationships, we are very traditional and conservative. We believe that the only moral relationship to have sexually is within a marriage. And that too in a heterosexual relationship.


VESELINOVIC: Schools say that the program is meant to show kids that it's OK to be different, but many parents in this largely Muslim community in Birmingham say their children are too young to learn about homosexuality and that teaching them on same-sex relationships contradicts their religion.

Parents pulled nearly 600 children from class for a day at Birmingham's Parkfield Community School where nearly all students are Muslim. Backlash against the curriculum spread, leading Park Field and four other schools in the city to suspend teaching it.

For now, protests are suspended too. But we couldn't speak to parents because they're negotiating with the school to try to find a solution. However, a leading Muslim LGBT campaigner in Birmingham says the protesters' message has already been harmful.


KHAKAN QURESHI, MUSLIM LGBT CAMPAIGNER: Pure and simple for me, it's 100 percent that they are homophobic. Even though they're saying they're not homophobic. With like, Parkfield, for instance is about 700 pupils there, 600 children were withdrawn.

And I'm sure there's going to be a handful of children who are going to identify potentially as part of the LGBT community. And I think for them it will be pushing them maybe back into the closet, as it were, making them feel fearful or insecure within themselves.


VESELINOVIC: As pressure grows on Parkfield school to permanently drop the lessons, the award-winning teacher who created the No Outsiders program says he's received death threats, which the police are investigating.


ANDREW MOFFAT, ASSISTANT HEADTEACHER, PARKFIELD COMMUNITY SCHOOL: All I'm doing is teaching children about different family modules and making sure that any child who does have two moms or two dads, they know that their family is normal, it's accepted and it's welcome in school.


VESELINOVIC: A message that some conservative parts of this Birmingham neighborhood find hard to accept, but the lessons have the backing of U.K.'s Department of Education, which told CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no reason that teaching children about the diverse society that we live in and the different types of healthy, loving relationships exist cannot be done in a way that respects everyone's views.


VESELINOVIC: In this dispute over what values will shape young minds, a compromise for now seems out of reach. Milena Veselinovic, CNN, Birmingham.

CHURCH: A decade-long story comes to a close and fans all over the world lined up to witness it. The record-setting premier of Avengers: Endgame. That is still to come.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, tourism is booming again in Egypt after an eight-year slump. According to an economist group, three million more people visited Egypt in 2018 than in the year before and Egypt's tourism minister says it's about to grow again.

CNN's emerging markets editor John Defterios joins me now from the Arabian travel market in Dubai. Good to see you again, John. So why are we seeing this increase in travel to Egypt? What's behind the boon?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, you know, Rosemary, I think there's two key factors here. Number one is security and all the infrastructure that goes around it at airports, hotels, even the secret police, very heavy hand in Egypt right now on that front to protect the visitors into the country.

Number two, also broadening the offering beyond the sand and sea of the Mediterranean and also the Red Sea that we know about. But like Sri Lanka today, Egypt had its challenges in the past, particularly in 2015 with the downing of the Russian jetliner over the Sinai. And we have a graphic here that illustrates the impact that it had.

The pre-Arab Spring high in Egypt was about 14 million visitors. And the you look at 2016, after that jetliner went down, and those above five million. The recovery last year was impressive, above 11 million.

So, I asked the Egyptian Tourism Minister, Rania Al-Mashat, why it's so important to protect the sector itself and how you go about doing it. Let's take a listen.


RANIA AL-MASHAT, EGYPTIAN MINISTER OF TOURISM: Tourism in Egypt represents 15 percent of GDP. The first priority for the government was to ensure that everyone feels secure and safe. There was a lot spent on the infrastructure related to security.

Moreover, the private sector in Egypt plays the key role in promoting tourism. Ninety-eight percent of the sector is led by the private sector, and the government came in after those events to assist the private sector by giving breaks related to bills with electricity, water, power, et cetera.

DEFTERIOS: There's a big focus on cultural tourism and the Grand Egyptian Museum at the shadow of the Giza pyramids. Is it a game changer in terms of putting you on the global arena? Could it too much of a burden? Or is it have that potential? AL-MASHAT: Now it said the Grand Egyptian Museum, and it's short for the GEM. It's going to be opened in the fourth quarter of 2020. It is, again, a clear testament that Egypt has a lot of heritage and a lot of antiquities to show to the world in an era where cultural tourism is on a decline.

[03:45:06] We believe that the GEM is going to revive cultural tourism again, not just to Egypt but to the whole world. This is the only museum in the world that has the full collection of Tutankhamun, the pharaoh behind the golden mask and also the only place where the pyramid is the backdrop.

DEFTERIOS: We know youth unemployment is acute. It's nearly 25 percent in the Middle East, North Africa, and the role of tourism, but how do you move the average job up the value chain here to give them good salaries and jobs at the same time?

AL-MASHAT: In 2018, we launched the Egypt tourism reform program, and the overarching objective is that we want to have at least one individual from each Egyptian household working in the sector.

So that means that training, capacity development, allowing the youth to engage when it comes to start-ups, technology, digitalization, which is very key in this sector, something we believe in and we promote.

DEFTERIOS: You saw the shock in Sri Lanka. Egypt's gone through its own security challenges. What's the message to the Sri Lankans in the heat of the challenge that they face right now, would you suggest?

AL-MASHAT: Egypt just last month was recognized by the World Travel and Tourism Council for a champion for resilience in tourism for the efforts that the government exerted investing in security and putting together the reform program. And making everyone feel safe is exactly what we are trying to do in Egypt, and I believe all countries around the world are doing that as well and should be doing that.


DEFTERIOS: Rania Al-Mashat, once again, the minister of tourism in Egypt. Their growth last year, by the way, Rosemary, was 16 percent versus the global average of 4 percent.

But I've been at this Arabian travel market for 10 years now and each year the narrative around security is in fact more important. There is a social unrest index from the International Monetary Fund. We have war in Yemen, and Syria, Libya. Unrest in Sudan, of course in Algeria. So, it's a challenging climate, but Egypt stood down that threat today and why it's grown so much in 2018.

CHURCH: Very interesting. John Defterios, thank you so much do that. We appreciate it.

And we'll take a short break. Still to come, 22 films on and Marvel movies are still going strong. "Avengers: Endgame" smashes box office records this weekend. We will hear from a man who set an equally impressive record of his own. We'll have that for you in just a moment.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year, no regret.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Part of the journey is in.


CHURCH: It is the epic conclusion of an 11-year journey. "Avengers: Endgame" hit theaters this weekend and smashed records at the box office. The movie grossed more than $1 billion around the world, breaking a record set by its prequel. It's also the first time a movie has crossed the billion-dollar mark in its opening weekend.

So, let's get more on all of this with Tony Mitchell, also known as Nem, the infinity watcher on Twitter. He is a Marvel superfan who has seen infinity war 103 times. Great to have you with us and congratulations on that record.

TONY "NEM" MITCHELL, MARVEL FAN: Thank you for having me, I appreciate it.

CHURCH: Of course, we will get to your infinity war record in just a moment. But first, of course, let's talk about the final Avengers movie, Endgame, breaking box office records right now without giving away anything. What did you think? Did it live up to all the hype? Did the movie end the way you expected it would?

MITCHELL: You know, it deserves all the money it can get because that movie is really good. That's all I can say. It's a perfect ending to an 11-year journey. It's just -- it was amazing. Cinematic masterpiece. I can't say enough about this movie.

It's definitely a satisfying payoff for all of the people who have been watching all of these films since 2008, and it's great. Everybody needs to go see it at least three times.

CHURCH: At least. Not 103 times, right? So, let's go back to your own personal record because it's extraordinary. As mentioned, you've watched Marvel's Infinity War more than 100 times. Why did you decide to go after the record on this particular movie and why was it so compelling, in your view?

MITCHELL: Well, after like the sixth or seventh time that I watched the movie, I just happened to think to myself, I wonder if this is a world record, and I looked it up and it was not, so I decided to go after it. I wanted to make it a very high mark, and that's what I set out to do.

The reason that I watched it so many times is that it was just -- it's amazing. The Rousseau brothers did an excellent job with this. The storytelling, the lore of it, everything was just out of this world and it blew me away. It was very -- I don't want to give anything away, in case somebody hasn't seen it.

CHURCH: Yes. Exactly.

MITCHELL: It was definitely very bold.

CHURCH: So how did "Endgame" measure up to "Infinity War?" would you watch "Endgame" more than 100 times, do you think?

MITCHELL: I definitely will not be going after that record anymore. It was a one and done situation. I will applaud anyone who wants to go after that record. Go ahead. Be my guest. But it is definitely a movie that I will be watching a lot in the theater. I've already seen it four times. I'm going back to see it tomorrow morning.

So, Yes, as far as measuring up to "Infinity War," it's really just comparing apples to oranges. They're two totally separate movies. They do complement each other perfectly, but I cannot say which one is better than the other. Because they're both so amazing.

CHURCH: All right. So, after such dedication, did you feel sad at the end just knowing that that's it, the end of the Avengers movies? Did you cry?

MITCHELL: No, I didn't cry. What? Everybody else in the theater did. Everyone else did but me. I was the only one that was, you know, standing fast. But I don't think that this is the end of the Avengers movies. I feel that this is the start of a new chapter, and I can't wait to see what happens in the future for these films.

[03:55:06] CHURCH: What do you mean the start of a new chapter?

MITCHELL: Well, if you've seen the movie, you know that there's a lot of --


MITCHELL: -- passing of the torch and things of that nature.

CHURCH: All right.

MITCHELL: So, it will definitely continue.

CHURCH: OK. That's interesting. And I did want to ask you this because an NFL star ruined it for many people, posting spoilers about "Endgame" on his social media accounts despite pleas not to do that from Marvel and, of course, all those involved in the movie. And fans understandably were furious. What do you say to him and anyone else who plans to reveal the movie's end before others get to see it?

MITCHELL: All I can say is that, you know, actually, I can't say it on TV. Just don't spoil the endgame. (CROSSTALK)

CHURCH: But why do you think he -- why do you think he did it? Do you think he had no idea the moviemakers has said say nothing?

MITCHELL: I don't think he understands the importance of not spoiling a movie of this magnitude. I mean, again, this is an over decade-long journey for people and we don't like it when people spoil our movies.

I mean, just don't say anything on social media. But I will say that if you haven't seen the movie and you haven't been spoiled by now, you need to turn off your social medias, OK? No Instagrams, no Twitter. Get off of it.

CHURCH: Right.

MITCHELL: Because you will find something.

CHURCH: Yes. Good advice. Tony Mitchell, great to chat with you. I appreciate it.

MITCHELL: Thank you very much.

CHURCH: He is great. Thanks for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Early Start is next for our viewers here in the United States. And for everyone else, stay tuned for more news with Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.