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Interview With Human Rights Activist And Filmmaker, IranWire Founder And "Then They Came For Me" Author Maziar Bahari; Interview With "The Swimmers" Director Sally El Hosaini; Interview With "The Wind At My Back" Author Misty Copeland. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.


HANNAH (PH), ARRESTED AND DETAINED BY IRANIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS (through translator): They choose the woman who are pretty, and suited

their appetite. Then the officer would take one of them from the cell to a smaller, private room. They would sexually assault them there.


AMANPOUR: The shocking allegations that Iranian protesters are facing sexual abuse while detained. We have an exclusive report. And I get

reaction from a journalist who himself was imprisoned by the regime. The Iranian Canadian activist, Maziar Bahari. Also, ahead.



AMANPOUR: The film telling the true story of the swimmers who went from war torn Syria to the Olympics. I speak to Sally El Hosaini about her real-

life inspiration. Plus.


MISTY COPELAND, AUTHOR, "THE WIND AT MY BACK": Yes, I am the first black principal ballerina at ABT, but I ain't, by no means, the first black



AMANPOUR: The trailblazing American ballerina, Misty Copeland, talks to Michel Martin about the black dancers who led the way.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Tonight, an exclusive report on what's happening to Iranian protesters behind bars. Demonstrations have been ongoing since September, as people

continue to take to the streets across the country. And as many as 14,000 people have been arrested since those protests began.

Now, there are troubling accusations that are emerging about the treatment they are facing while detained. Men and women alleging sexual assault by

Iran's security forces. Nima Elbagir has the story, and as you would expect, the report contains disturbing details.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Over these mountains is Iran. A regime that has succeeded in

cutting many of its people off from the outside world. But disturbing stories detailing the authority's brutal retribution, systematic sexual

violence against anti-regime protesters have begun leaking out.

We've come here to the Kurdish region of Iraq to try and find out more. This is Hannah (PH), not her real name, a Kurdish Iranian woman recently

smuggled out of Iran. She fears for her life. After taking off and burning her head scarf on the streets, she was arrested and detained by Iranian

intelligence officers.

HANNAH (PH), ARRESTED AND DETAINED BY IRANIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS (through translator): They choose the woman who are pretty and suited

their appetite. Then the officer would take one of them from the cell to a smaller, private room. They would sexually assault them there.

ELBAGIR (voiceover): Hannah (ph) isn't only an eyewitness. She also was violated.

HANNAH (PH) (through translator): I feel shy talking about this. You can still see what the policeman did. Look here on my neck, it's purplish. That

is why I'm covering it. He forced himself on the.

ELBAGIR: Then a fight broke out with another protester, drawing away Hannah's (ph) attacker. Hannah (ph) and others could hear screams, and they

believe a woman was raped in an interrogation room. Hannah sketched out the police station as she remembers it. She estimates 70 to 80 men and women

were together in a main hall that accessed four private interrogation rooms.

It was in these interrogation rooms, she says, that she was assaulted and others were raped. CNN was able to locate the police station through

Hannah's (ph) description, eyewitness corroboration, and geolocation using key landmarks. It's in the Islamabad neighborhood of Urmia.

Based on this testimony, I'm speaking to a number of sources, a pattern of repression comes into focus. Police centers used as filtration points,

moving protesters from one location to another. Often families left not knowing where their loved ones are held.

One Iraq based Kurdish militant operation party pack, identified over 240 people, who they believe are missing within this maze of detention centers.

Human rights organizations believe the number is higher, in the thousands. Some of the victims, as young as 14. Many are men, supporting female

protesters. Their punishment as severe as the woman's.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They brought four men over who have been beaten, screaming intensely under the cell. And one of the men

who was tortured was sent to the waiting room where I was. I asked him, what all that screaming was about? He said, they are raping the men.

ELBAGIR (voiceover): Based on witness testimony, CNN traced a location to an Iranian army intelligence headquarters. Voiced here by a translator, a

17-year-old boy sent CNN a voice note following his imprisonment. We are withholding his name and location for his safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When the security guard heard me discussing the rape of the other inmates, he started torturing me all over

again. They tortured, raped me from behind.

ELBAGIR (voiceover): Even as authorities visited sexual violence on protesters, regime figures accused female protesters of prostitution, of

quote, "Wanting to be naked." Of the incidents of sexual violence against protesters inside Iranians detention facilities, most occurred in the

Kurdish majority areas to the west of Iran, home to a historically oppressed minority.

Disturbingly, in some cases, the rapes were filmed and used to blackmail protesters into silence. There has been a real escalation where female

protesters are, as you can see here, being openly assaulted. Often, sexually. But the violence against women, like the protests, are not

confined to the Kurdish areas. They are often focused on locations where the protests are most intense, like, here in the capital of Tehran.

One of these stories is Armita Abassi (ph), a typical 20-year-old on social media, sharing her love of animals and music. In social media posts,

appearing under her name, Abassi (ph), like many young women in Iran, criticized the regime openly after the protests began. And like most, she

did it without anonymity. It didn't take long for security forces to find and arrest her. Abassi (ph) disappeared.

Soon after whistleblowers began to post on various social media platforms, medics sharing eyewitness accounts of what had been done to Abassi. First

of all, they say, there were a few plainclothesmen with her, and they did not let her out of their sight. Even during a private medical examination,

they were there.

She was my patient. I went to her bedside. They had shaved her hair. She was scared and was trembling. When she first came, they said it was rectal

bleeding due to repeated rape. The plainclothesmen insisted that the doctor write that the rape was from prior to her arrest. And then after this issue

was becoming obvious to all, they changed the entire scenario altogether.

The details of these leaks were confirmed to CNN by an insider at Imam Ali Hospital where Abassi (ph) was brought to be examined. In a statement, the

government said Abassi (ph) was treated for digestive problems. The medics who treated her said that was not true. The Iranian regime denies the rape,

accusing her of leading protests, an allegation which could see her face the death penalty.

At this usually busy border crossing between Iraq and Iran, it is a deceptively quiet. Those who can cross, tell us the noose is tightening on

protesters. Authorities have, for decades, used sexual torture against Iranians and, it appears, once more, a familiar pattern. Sexual violence

deployed to enforce an assertion of moral guardianship.


AMANPOUR: Nima Elbagir reporting there. And, of course, has reached out to the Iranian government for comment, but we have not heard. Now, over the

weekend, two well-known actresses joined the number of arrested. The video that you're seeing now is from the Instagram of one of them, in public

without a head scarf. Another was also detained after showing support for the movement. Meantime, fears grow of a bloody crackdown in the Kurdish

Iranian city of Mahabad.

Joining me now on the late is Maziar Bahari. He's an Iranian-Canadian filmmaker, he's a journalist, and he's a human rights activist. He founded

the IranWire website which connects Iranians journalist across the world with citizens inside the country which is very, very useful given the

amount of censorship.

Maziar, welcome to the program. And many might remember that your story of yourself being arrested after the 2009 protests led to a film, in fact, and

a book directed by Jon Stewart, "Rosewater". So, just to place you in context, what do you make of this report? Is this the first time we are

hearing of these kinds of terrible abuses and violations?



60 years of sexual suppression by Ayatollah Khamenei, his supporters, and then since 1979 by his government. Why am I saying 60 years?


BAHARI: Because when you remember, Ayatollah Khamenei started his movement in 1962 because the Shah -- the Shah of Iran, gave women and religious

minorities the right to vote. And Khamenei many said that, if women have the right to vote, there are going to be prostitutes.

So, because of that since 1979, when Khamenei came to power, they have been suppressing women. They have been denying women of their rights. And the

whole government, I can say, has been sexualized. And the movement against the government has been sexualized as well. Sex has become an instrument of

suppression. I know that you did a series about sex. Sex has become an instrument of suppression in the hands of the government.

And then you see such atrocities happening in Iranian prisons when interrogators, torturers, sexual perverts would've been suppressed

sexually, they have a free reign in order to -- and they can treat the prisoners however they want. Especially, female prisoners.

AMANPOUR: I've never heard it put that way. I mean, that really does put this whole issue in context. And you know, we have heard of sexual violence

and perversion, frankly, weather comes to the Taliban, whether it comes to many of these kinds of societies where they use that kind of violence.

BAHARI: I mean, social suppression is not something new in Iran.


BAHARI: Sexual atrocities in Iran is not something new. In the 1980s, many women, many female prisoners who were going to be executed had to be forced

to marry one of the revolutionary guards, because a virgin cannot be executed according to the Sharia law. So, they were forced to be married

and raped by those revolutionary guards in order to be executed. Just imagine the atrocities.

And now, we are seeing this because of social media. And during the recent protests, because it is a women-led protest, the sexual violence has gone

to the surface and we can hear more about it.

AMANPOUR: So, there's just so much here that is -- needs to be unpacked. First and foremost, you just talked about the internet, and it's true, it's

pretty much the only way we're getting information.


AMANPOUR: Pretty much, unless people can pick up the phone and call into Iran. But we know that there's been a lot of internet censorship. We're

just hearing now that there's been a massive disruption in the Iranian Kurdish area, which is the homeland of Mahsa Amini, and which has faced the

worst kind of crackdown since her death and the protests.

Do you feel that you are getting, with IranWire, and we're getting accurate information and timely information about what is going on, given the strict

restrictions against information going in and out?

BAHARI: Unfortunately, not as much as we want because the government sometimes shutdown the international internet, so people do not have access

to Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, different platforms that need Cloud. And sometimes, it even shuts down the national internet. So, even

the Iranian ministries and organizations, they cannot communicate with each other.

And in certain cases, like what we saw in Kurdistan, in certain parts of Kurdistan right now, even there is no landline. So, people cannot

communicate. Fortunately, there are many Kurds who live on the border with Iraq, so they can pick up the signals from the Iraqi side, and that's why

we receive some information from Kurdistan right now. If it was not for the Iraqi signals, we would not have any information.

AMANPOUR: As to the actual movement and the actual protests, you know, it really has galvanized a lot of the world, we just reported and we will show

some more pictures of the latest two Iranian actresses who still live there having, you know, posted at their posters -- their pictures on Instagram.

BAHARI: All very brave women.

AMANPOUR: Yes, very --

BAHARI: Very brave women.

AMANPOUR: And one of them said, this might be my last post. From this moment on, if anything happens to me, know that I will always be with the

people of Iran until my last breath. So, I guess, the question to you is, where does the protest, does the uprising stand now? Because you don't see

as many streets full of people, full of women. What are you hearing about where it is?

BAHARI: Well, you know, we are surprised by the continuation of the protest, even the protesters in Iran, they did not think that they would be

on the streets of Tehran.


And all of 31 provinces of Iran, different cities in all 31 provinces of Iran, more than two months after the death of Mahsa Amini.

What you said about the actress really goes to the roots of this movement. When Mahsa Amini died because the Morality Police arrested her beat her up,

that really resonated with many Iranians, especially Iranian women. They could see themselves as a potential Mahsa Amini.

They can be arrested at any point by any idiot who has some power in Iran. It can be the Morality Police, it can be someone from the judiciary, it can

be the Paramilitary Basij, it can be the revolutionary guard. Anyone with a gun in Iran can arrest you and can do whatever you want. And that is the

issue that the Iranian -- that the protesters are protesting against in Iran.

And when the protests started in September, on September 16th because of Mahsa Amini's death, it was about hijab and it was about her. But now, more

than two months later, it's about the death of the regime.

AMANPOUR: It's really changed, hasn't it?

BAHARI: It is --

AMANPOUR: I was going to ask you whether other actors had -- I was going to use the word, hijacked it for their own agenda, maybe that's the wrong

word. Has it morphed?

BAHARI: Well, sometimes, of course, in any movement, in any part of the world, there are certain people who tried to hijack it. But what is

happening right now in Iran is that the average age of protester in Iran is between 16 to 22. So, these are young people who do not have any memory of

the 1979 revolution, the 1980 to 1988 war with Iraq. They do not identify with their ideals -- with the ideals of their fathers and grandfathers and

even older brothers. And they want a regime change now.

In 2009, when millions of people --

AMANPOUR: You were covering that.

BAHARI: When I was covering it --

AMANPOUR: They called it the Green Revolution.

BAHARI: Exactly. Green movement. When people were marching silently on the streets, when they were passing by the murals of supreme leader of Iran,

Ayatollah Khamenei, they were silent. They were looking at him with disappointment. But now, the main slogan is death to the dictator, death to

Khamenei, and, you know, saying obscenities about Khamenei, his family, and his office.

AMANPOUR: What do you think is the conversation going on in Khamenei's office or in the majlis or in the presidency or within the security

services forces. Are they trying to figure out a way out of this? Are they trying to figure out a way to crush it?

BAHARI: They don't understand it because the average age of an ayatollah in Iran and people at the helm of the government in Iran is about 70. So, -

- and they're all men. So, these old, aging men, they do not understand a movement that is led by young women. And Khamenei, the other day, he said

that these people are just weak and too small for us to think about them and they cannot do anything to us.

Of course, the security apparatus, they're all over the -- themselves. Iran has been really preparing itself for a foreign invasion since 2001 when --

after 9/11 when the U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan. But it has not been ready. The Islamic republic has not been ready for an internal, for a

domestic protest like this at this level.

So, they are clueless about what's going on. But they are resorting to what they know which is detainment, torture, execution, shammed trials. And this

is just the beginning. Right now, at this 15 people have been sentenced to death, we will see more of that. We will soon see sham trials. There are

social media persecution of different opposition members, different journalists by trolls -- by Islamic republic trolls.

At least 60 professional journalists are imprisoned right now. More than 200 citizen journalists are in prison right -- imprisoned right now. So,

the government is all over itself. They don't know what to do. And at the same time, it's a government that is corrupt. That has been mismanaging the

country for the past four decades. And much of the protests that we see on the streets right now is because of that mismanagement and corruption.

AMANPOUR: Did you think you would see -- has this happened in the past, such young people being tortured, being killed? There is a very powerful

report by a colleague, friend, Farnaz Fassihi, in "The New York Times", detailing with dozens of interviews, inside and outside, what's happened to

young people -- what is happening to young people right now under 18, including a little boy of 10 -- nine or 10 who was killed.



AMANPOUR: I mean, and then telling the parents don't tell and claiming everything was suicide, not in this case, but in many other cases.

BAHARI: Yes. Unfortunately, many Iranians of my generation, we've seen this movie before. In the early 1980s, the Islamic Republic arrested

thousands of people. And in 1988, they killed 5,000 people within a few days. So, we have seen this movie before. And we are really fearing that

they want to repeat an atrocity like that again.

AMANPOUR: So, if you were to be asked right now where do you think this leading -- this leads to? What would you say?

BAHARI: It is difficult to say. And anyone who tells you with certainty what is going to happen, he or she is lying. Because what has happened in

Iran in September 16th surprised everyone. And the continuation of it has been surprising people as well. What we can do as journalists outside of

Iran is just to be the voice of the people.

And this is a -- what is different between this protest and the protest of the 2009 is that this is a leaderless movement. In 2009, you had two

leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Karroubi, who were regime insiders and who were leading the Green Movement.

But right now, the movement is led by many unknown people. That's why the regime cannot control it. The regime does not know that there is -- this is

Mousavi who they can detain and put him under house arrest. The movement in different neighborhoods, in different cities, in different towns, an in

indifferent villages is led by people that who are unknown to the government.

AMANPOUR: Maziar Bahari, thank you and we'll keep checking in with you.

BAHARI: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Thanks so much.

And again, we obviously always ask for the Iranian government to come and explain themselves. We have not yet successfully been able to get them to

respond positively.

Now, the people's uprising in Iran reminds some of the Arab spring more than a decade ago, across that region, young people rose up for freedom,

democracy and an economic future. But in Syria, it was brutally crushed. Indeed, the Iranian regime helped the dictator Bashar Assad remain in


Out of the ashes of that civil war, an inspiring story though of two Syrian girls who trained as competitive swimmers. The film director, Sally El

Hosaini tells how one of them, Yusra Mardini, managed to reach her dream of competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The film is called "The Swimmers",

and here are some of the trailers.


NATHALIE ISSA, ACTRESS, "THE SWIMMERS": The Olympics are so faraway right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe you can do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to get to Germany.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not allowed to give up.

MATTHIAS SCHWEIGHOFER, ACTOR, "THE SWIMMERS": I heard you both had to escape a war. We're forming an Olympic refugee team for Rio. We have a lot

of work to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should do it. There is so much more than an Olympian.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Swim for me, for everyone who died trying to find a new life. Swim for all of us.


AMANPOUR: And Sally El Hosaini joining me now. Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, "The Swimmers", it is -- it's almost like a fairytale, isn't it? It's like, out of the ashes, this phoenix rises. How did you first hear

of them? What made you want to tell the story?

EL HOSAINI: So, I first heard of Yusra Mardini when she was in the news around the time that she was competing at Rio and thought it was an

incredible story then. But then working title contacted me and they had a screenplay and they were looking for a director.

And it was when I read the screenplay and I found out that it wasn't just a film about Yusra. It was also a film about her sister, Sarah. A celebrated

hero in Yusra, but an unsung hero in Sarah. And I saw this female empowerment story within their story that I was really interested in doing


AMANPOUR: And you obviously -- you come from the region. I mean, you are Welsh-Egyptian, is that right?

EL HOSAINI: Yes, that's right.

AMANPOUR: Yes, so you had some kind of experience, real lived experience in seeing the, you know, the desires of people in your region and they were

so brutally crushed in Syria.

EL HOSAINI: Certainly. I mean, one of the things that I related to in Yusra and Sarah, was that they were very modern, liberal young Arab women.

I grew up in Cairo until I was 16. And they reminded me of me and my friends growing up there. They were bilingual, they listened to western

music. They, you know -- my siblings are swimmers. So, there were a lot of parallels there even though it was a different time and a different place.


AMANPOUR: And actually, the film opens showing precisely that. The kind of a normal middle-class neighborhood, just as the uprising is happening but

before it hits their neighborhood, so to speak. And the whole first part of the film actually isn't Arabic. You subtitled it. Are the two sisters who

you cast as Yusra and Sarah Mardini, are they Syrian? How did you find them?

EL HOSAINI: So, Manal and Nathalie Issa who play Yusra and Sarah are actually sisters in real life. And that was just a wonderful find, to be

honest. It wasn't something I intended to do. They're actually Lebanese.

We had started looking for Syrian actors for the film. And we very quickly realized a lot of the young women we were talking to had really difficult

paperwork situations. They were outside Syria. They had variant degrees of refugee status. And we were filming in Turkey, the U.K., Belgium, and

Germany. And we needed work permits, visas for all those countries which was going to be impossible. So, we expanded the search to the rest of the

Middle East. But it was important to me that the main cast were native Arabic speakers.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And was it important to you that they were sisters or was that just serendipitous luck.

EL HOSAINI: That was luck. But it was -- once I found, you know, Nathalie who wasn't an actress, who plays Yusra, prior to this, Manal, her older

sister is an actress. Once I found her, I just knew it was a no-brainer because they really reminded me of the Mardini sisters.

AMANPOUR: Yes. So, we're going to play the clip that you've given us. And this is during one of the training sessions still in Syria. The dad --

their dad is a former national swimmer and he's the trainer. And anyway, we'll see what happens.




AMANPOUR: Well, she doesn't die because the explosive does not detonate. Is this a true story? Did that happen as they were swimming?

EL HOSAINI: Yes, so, that actually happened during the training session. In the film, it's actually a race that she's swimming. But that really did

happen and sadly two people did lose their life on the football pitch, as shown in the film. And sadly, also, it wasn't the only time. It wasn't just

a one-off. There were mortar attacks at the pool quite regularly at the time that Yusra and Sarah we're training right before the left.

AMANPOUR: And I think, you know -- then they -- you showed this very, very effecting family discussion and this, sort of, back and forth, shall we go,

shan't we go. You know, the two sisters felt that they needed to go if Yusra was going to reach her dream of the Rio Olympics in 2016. And

eventually the father says, yes, but you must just walk. You must walk and don't take the boats. But what do they do? They take the boats.

And that is a really, really profound scene because you've got everybody in these boats. Who were the people -- I understand some of them were real

refugees who had actually made that crossing who you cast.

EL HOSAINI: That's right. It was very important for me that this film be very authentic. So, behind the scenes and also cast in the film were many

refugees who worked with us on the film. And some of the people in the dinghy during the crossing sequence had also traveled that route


AMANPOUR: And they didn't have PTSD? Why would they want to do that again?

EL HOSAINI: Well, they really wanted to show a human face of refugees, and that was my aim with this film. It's very easy to be numbed by numbers, and

the power of cinema is to allow an audience to really walk in someone else's shoes and to empathize.

I think when you see something on the news, you can sympathize sometimes. And that creates a distance between the observer and the observed. And what

a film can do is really put an audience on the journey with you, which is a different experience.

So, happily -- you know, Netflix who made the film with us had counselors on standby. There were sessions that were available to people. People did

take them up on that.

AMANPOUR: I must say, one of the things that I read about this which just blew my mind is that even some of these refugees who had decided not to

take the boat in real life, actually wanted to be cast with their children, just to show their children what Syrians had to go through.


AMANPOUR: I find that just --

EL HOSAINI: There was --

AMANPOUR: -- really quite profound.

EL HOSAINI: -- there was a Syrian family, they're the ones with children in the dinghy and who traveled the route with our actors. And they decided

to take their kids out of school and spend the three months filming with us because they wanted their children to have a real education in what so many

others, other members of their family had gone through.


AMANPOUR: And then, again, because, I think, this part is so resonant, because everybody knows about the boat crossings and the dinghies and the

dead and the refugees. It was clearly heavily overloaded. It was a faulty boat, they had to pay half their money and -- you know, for something that

might not have gotten them across. And at one point, it was sinking, and Sarah, in the film, decides to jump overboard. She's a strong swimmer.

Three of four them jumped overboard to lighten the load. Did that actually happen in real-life?

EL HOSAINI: It did happen, yes. Sarah --

AMANPOUR: That is huge courage.

EL HOSAINI: Yes. Sarah was the first to jump in the water, and then Yusra followed. And Yusra and Sarah chose to stay in the water even when the

engine did switch back on. The dinghy had taken on so much water that even with the engine working, it was going to sink if anyone else got back on.

So, they stayed in the water, tied to the dinghy, and they swam alongside it until the dinghy reached land.

AMANPOUR: And then, you know, Yusra goes to the Olympics. And in what we see, she wins her race. But what actually happened?

EL HOSAINI: So, she --

AMANPOUR: Let's just say also for the Refugee Olympic team, because there was no Syrian team.

EL HOSAINI: Yes. I mean, she didn't swim for Syria, she swam the Refugee Olympic team.

AMANPOUR: Yes, yes.

EL HOSAINI: She did win her heat. And so, it wasn't a medal race, but she won her heat. And I think all of that was within how many months of leaving

Syria. And so, I think it's such an inspirational, incredible story, and a really empowering one for that reason to be a teenager and to win on a

world stage like that after everything you've been through.

AMANPOUR: And now, she is a Goodwill ambassador, I think, for UNHCR, the refugee agency.


AMANPOUR: And her sister, Sarah, is facing criminal charges for going back to the island of Lesbos. Criminal charges by the Greek government because

she was trying to help them and, you know, apparently illegal to help in that regard.

EL HOSAINI: When I mentioned, you know, this is a film about two heroes, you know, I think what Sarah decided to do is really profound and

exceptional to go back.

AMANPOUR: To go back from her safety in Germany eventually.

EL HOSAINI: She went back to Lesbos and she worked for a small charity, helping people, giving them blankets, food, water, really assisting those

who were arriving. She wasn't the only one arrested. There is a hashtag on Instagram you can follow called Free Humanitarians. There are many other

volunteers who also were criminalized. The Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, are defending their case and the court case continues. She

could be facing up to 20 years in prison. So, currently, she is in Limbo waiting for this court case.

AMANPOUR: The Greek government said she was engaged -- and all of them -- in illegal activities, trying to get refugees, ferry them across. What do

you think her chances are?

EL HOSAINI: I mean, who knows. I mean, she has a lot of supports. She -- hopefully, the film will shine a light on her case and the case of the

others that were also arrested. I think that, you know, there needs to be more empathy in the world.

AMANPOUR: Including in this country, you are part British, and there have been terrible situations of refugees and asylum seekers. As we know, the

government wants to ferry them off to Rwanda and elsewhere. They are drowning in the English Channel as well.

EL HOSAINI: Yes. Sadly, this isn't a new story. Even though the story took place in 2015, this is something that's continuing. And I think we need a

global solution. We need safe passage. We need to think of this as if we are part of the story too, because we are. This isn't something that's

going to go away. With climate change, we're going to see more refugees, not less.

There are many reasons why people leave, not just war, why people are forced to flee their home, and search for safety. And I think we need a

more empathetic view of that. And frankly, I'm quite disgusted by how our government is currently reacting to this.

AMANPOUR: Yes. It is extraordinary. And actually, many critics say it violates international law.

EL HOSAINI: It does.

AMANPOUR: So, it's a really inspiring story of superheroes, but also with a profound political message on refugees. Sally El Housaini, thank you so

much indeed for joining us.

EL HOSAINI: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And good luck.

EL HOSAINI: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And turning now to a stunning development that Hollywood's biggest company, barely a year after leaving, Bob Iger, one of the most

successful CEOs in Walk Disney history is returning to once again run the media empire. Bob Chapek, who replaced Iger in 2020 as CEO is stepping down


I spoke to Bob Iger a few years ago ahead of what turned out to be his short-lived retirement. He told me then about the sheer panic he had

endured trying to get the Disney job. And he shared an inspiring lesson from that experience.


ROBERT IGER, CEO, DISNEY: I believed in myself. I believed I could do it and wanted it very much. And it was getting so strenuous and it was so

uncertain that at one point, I had taken my son to a basketball game and in the middle it, I felt a pounding on my -- a tightness in my chest and

shortness of breath and I was feeling clammy. I was certain I was having a heart attack.

And of course, stupidly, instead of, you know, calling a medical professional, I got to the car and drove home.


AMANPOUR: With your son in the car?

IGER: Yes, with my son. I immediately saw my doctor and he said, you're having a classic panic attack. It was the most relaxing thing anyone had

ever said to me at that point. But, look, today, I've got, you know, this fantastic job and I've had this wonderful experience. And the pain of that

process is so distant to me and so irrelevant in many respects. Although, that substance we talked about earlier having resilience and believing in

one's self and, you know, me being patient or --

AMANPOUR: And actually, sticking with it.

IGER: Yes. Again, it's easier for me to say because doors constantly opened, which is another lesson, which if that door opens, walk through it,

don't hesitate. Even if you're a little bit unsure, maybe I don't know that job is going to ask more of me than I might be capable, you've got to walk

through, you've got to say yes, you know, give me a chance.


AMANPOUR: Details about why this hand over and Bob Iger walking through this particular door at this particular time are actually scant. But

Disney's stocks shot up on news of his reappearance.

Turning now to the world of dance, with our next guest who continues to break barriers, Misty Copeland made history as the first African American

female principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theater. And she is now detailing her journey to the historic role and her relationship

with the women who paved the way. It's in her new book, "The Wind at My Back." And she joins Michel Martin to discuss these achievements and of

course, her future in ballet as well.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. And, Misty Copeland, thank you so much for talking with us.

MISTY COPELAND, AUTHOR, "THE WIND AT MY BACK": Thank you so much for having me.

MARTIN: Now, I know you are a prima ballerina, but your story could be an opera. I know that -- people who have seen you in all your glory on stage

or people who have seen you in your magnificent finery at a Red Carpet would never know the story that brought you to this place. It's just a

remarkable story growing up in a really unstable fashion, largely raised by a single mom. One of six siblings.

You actually started ballet at an age when many kids have already been on point for years. I mean, you know, some kids start as early as three, and

you didn't even start ballet until you were 13. How did that happen and how did you fall in love with ballet?

COPELAND: My mother moved to California when I was just two years old with me and my siblings from Kansas City, Missouri where I was born. And it --

there was just constant moving. I was in different schools and I became this very introverted shell of a person. Not really not really having found

my way of expressing myself and communicating because it was not verbally. I was really uncomfortable just speaking.

And it was around the time that my mother had recently remarried her fourth husband. And we had a settle in San Pedro, California I had become a member

of the Boys and Girls Club of San Pedro, me and my sibling. It was a place where my mother could have us go and there was like a staple place for us

to be after school.

You know, years being at the Boys and Girls Club, they never had dance there. And it was at 13 years old that the local ballet teacher in San

Pedro came into the Boys and Girls Club looking for more diverse students to give scholarships to and bring into her school, and I happen to be one

of them. So, I was pushed into taking this free ballet class on a basketball court at my Boys and Girls Club, wearing gym clothes. You know,

I was not an all in the proper attire.

And it wasn't until -- you know, I took that first class. My teacher immediately identified that I was a prodigy. That word meant nothing to me.

It didn't really hold any weight but it took a lot of coaxing to get me to the studio. Once I was in the studio was when I fell in love with it. There

was something about the rigor, the consistency, the stability, all the things I was craving in my life, ballet gave me, this grace and beauty, it

was an escape and it was a way of expression that suited me and worked for me, and the rest is history.

MARTIN: I think it's Maya Angelou who said, you can't be what you can see. And at that point, you would not have seen anyone, really, who looked like

you. But can you identify the moment in which you said to yourself, this is something that I can do, this is something that I love?


COPELAND: You know, what's so interesting is that I immediately felt that with ballet. I think that it was because of the support that I had. I had a

teacher who was not a woman of color. She was a white Jewish woman but had such a clear understanding of what it meant for me to be in the ballet

world as a black girl. She protected me in a lot of ways from the racism that was happening around me and kind of guarded me from hearing and

knowing what was going on.

So, I really had this incredible freedom to just be a student and not think about the things that most dancers of color are thinking about in this

space of this very European white world. It wasn't until I became a professional ballet dancer that it all hit me.

MARTIN: So, I am wondering when it is that you first got the message that there were people who did not believe that you belonged there? How was that

message first communicated to you?

COPELAND: I had an opportunity to go as a guest artist when I was 15 years old to South Dakota and dance with this small ballet company as the lead in

"The Nutcracker." And I had learned this role gone -- flew there with only a couple of days before my first performance. And I was told that I had to

pretend that I didn't know the choreography and that I was just there to audition for the lead. And it was very confusing for me.

Everyone was really worried that bringing this black girl to this white school to dance the lead would've caused such an uproar that they wanted to

feel out whether or not they were going to accept me and kind of make it look as though I was auditioning. That was the first time that I had

experienced that type of response within the ballet community.

But once I became a professional, these microaggressions and things that I would read in reviews or just from dancers in the company, board members, I

would hear from staff members at American Ballet Theater that I shouldn't be performing in the Ballet Blanc, the white ballets. These are in some of

the most famous ballets, the second act is when the entire company, the court of ballet and the lead dancers are all very uniformed. They wore

white tutus and all have similar complexions. And I was told that I would ruin the aesthetic, I would ruin the line by being a brown body amongst

these white dancers in the Ballet Blanc genre.

MARTIN: I recognize that you've heard this for so many years that this is just part of what you had to deal with, but I think for people outside of

the world of ballet, I think many people would find that just absolutely ridiculous and absurd. Why would people think that? Is it because sort of a

European -- a very specific European aesthetic was so embedded in the ballet world that people didn't question it?

COPELAND: Yes. Right. You know, it is now art form as well and we have to make adjustments because when you are performing in America, you know, in

order for the ballet to continue to stay relevant, to continue to grow we have to see diversity on the stage and behind the scenes and in board rooms

in order for people to want to invest in it and want it to continue on.

So, you know, we have ways to go. And this has been my mission since I, you know, became a professional is educating black and brown community about

what ballet is and the beauty of it and then, creating a space where they feel safe and that they can thrive within this space.

MARTIN: One of the things though that I found interesting about your book is that it so encapsulates the experience of being the first and the only,

not just in the world of ballet but in so many other fields. You were 10 years at the American Ballet Theater and you were the only black women in

the company. And I wondered what -- were you aware of it at the time? Did you feel this extra sense of having to persevere even in difficult times

because -- did you feel the weight of all those eyes on you as the first and the only for so long?

COPELAND: I would say I didn't feel that until the year that I was promoted to principal dancer. It was 15 years that I was a dancer in the

company before I reached the rank of principal dancer. And in that time, I just felt -- I understood my responsibility and it never felt like pretty

or weight. I was just proud to be in this position and I understood that I might not see another black woman come through this company in my lifetime.

So, I'm going to take every opportunity. I'm going to push through.


But it wasn't until I -- you know, all eyes were on me in terms of the media and my story getting out there beyond the ballet bubble and really

crossing over into pop culture. But the narrative change in that last year before I was promoted, you know, were -- was like, is Misty getting these

opportunities because she is black? If she gets promoted -- or if she doesn't execute these technical feats in these roles that she is given the

opportunity to dance, does she deserve to be a principal dancer? And that doesn't happen. There is no white dancer has experiences that.

You know, when -- I'm approaching rules for the first time, and I have the "New York Times," they're reviewing me and people writing but my

performances, it became really overwhelming to me, and that was the first time that I really started to feel the pressure of what it meant to be in

that position.

MARTIN: One of the things I learned from your book is literally two days after you watched one of the roles of your career in Firebird, you had

withdrawn because you were grievously injured. You had -- was it six stress fractures in your tibia? You knew how seriously injured you were, but you

went on anyway. Why?

COPELAND: You know, I understood that I had to be my own advocate. Because, you know, within the company being the only -- I didn't have

people -- I didn't have the opportunity to keep making mistakes and get another opportunity. I understood that getting this chance to perform the

role of the Firebird, this iconic role in a full-length classical, work as a black woman at 29 years old, which is like ancient in ballet age, that if

I didn't go on stage and I backed out because of an injury there wasn't going to be a second chance.

And so, I knew that even if I just gone onstage one-time it could completely change the perception of black women in ballet, it could give an

opportunity to a young person who saw me on the stage and could see a future for themselves, whether or not it was ballet or whatever it is they

wanted to do where -- in a space where they are told they can't, I knew it was going to make an impact.

So, I -- you know, it was seeing the line wrapped around the met, you know, of black and brown people that are supporting me that got me through that

performance. Once that adrenaline hit and I knew who was in the audience, the pain went away. But, of course, it all came rushing back as soon as the

performance was over and I knew that it might be the last performance I ever performed if I don't -- didn't go see a doctor.

MARTIN: This is where, I think, the role of history and mentors comes in because one of the few people who did know how seriously injured you were

was your mentor, Raven Wilkinson. And, you know, I have to say, her story along with yours is unbelievable. How did you learn of her?

COPELAND: Yes. Raven's journey has been incredible, and she was really the first black woman to reach the rank of soloist. But I learned of her

watching a documentary on the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I was already a soloist at ABT. And sadly, I was not at all familiar with who she was. I

watch this long documentary. And towards the very end, this elegant, beautiful black woman appeared on the screen and started speaking about her

time in the company, and I literally was just stopped in my tracks. I could not believe that I didn't know about her story in this famous company.

It made me angry that I didn't know that history, my history as a black woman, as a black person in ballet. But it also made me feel like I had so

much more to fight for, that I had a duty and responsibility to carry on, you know, her journey, the opportunities she didn't get because of the

color of her skin. She joined the Ballet Russe in 1955 as the first black woman, the only black woman to dance in that company. She rose quickly to

the rank of soloist.

And as you said, you know, she experienced a lot of racism when the company would tour through the south. And her life was being threatened by the Ku

Klux Klan, and, you know, it was really putting the whole company at risk. And so, eventually, the -- her and the artistic director made the decision

that it was time for her to leave.


Raven ended up moving to Amsterdam and dancing with the Dutch National Ballet for about 10 years and having a really full and rich career. But

this is the journey of so many black artists of her time, especially, that would have to go to Europe in order to have a career, or to have success.

And Raven moved back to the States after her time in Amsterdam and could not get a job in any other class school company.

And so, much has not changed today. You know, I think of Michaela DePrince, who literally has done what Raven has done, as a black dancer. She had to

move to Amsterdam and joined the Dutch National Ballet because a company here in America would not hire her until more recently. But this -- you

know, it's just important for me to share Raven's story, it's important for people to know her name and all of the black ballerinas who have allowed

for me to be in this position.

MARTIN: In part, this book is an homage to her. You want the world to know her story but you also take pains to list the names, to call out the names

of all of these black ballerinas who have preceded you and also, those who continue to perform. Clearly, that's important to you. Why is that so

important to you?

COPELAND: Yes. You know, it's so much a part of what drew me to ballet was being a part of something bigger than me, being a part of an incredible

history and lineage and tradition. And then, finding out that black people have had a huge impact on the ballet community and culture for so long. It

is so important for us to know our history as black people, you know, that we are so often turned away or told that we don't belong in certain spaces

or that it's not for us because you don't know your history or you don't see yourself reflected. And our stories are often erased and/or not

documented. And that's been the case with so many black dancers and black women in particular.

And so, I feel that it's my responsibility with the reach I have, with the platforms that I have for people to hear me and see me, for them to know

that, yes, I'm the first black principal ballerina at ABT, but I am by no means the first black ballerina and the first black dancer. And I wouldn't

be here without all of the work of so many black dancers that have come before me.

MARTIN: And before we let you go, there's another milestone or glass ceiling, I'm not quite sure what to call it, that you are trying to cross,

and that is returning to ballet after becoming a mother. So, you have a beautiful little boy now to enrich your life and your husband's life. I

mean, what is next? I mean, how do you see your career at this point? Do you plan to go back to the stage?

COPELAND: It is difficult, to be a working woman, a woman that wants to have a family and then, still be able to focus on her career. And it's

extremely difficult as an athlete. I mean, you look at Serena Williams and, you know, returning to tennis and the difficulties of that and, you know,

to focus on your body. But ballerinas have been doing this for generations and generations, having babies, going back onstage, but we don't see all

the work and what it takes to -- the dedication and commitment.

And so, my plan is to be back on stage by the fall, winter of 2023. I think I will always dance in some capacity and I will forever be a part of the

ballet community, you know, whether it is through speaking, writing books, just advocating for black dancers in ballet through my foundation, the

Misty Copeland Foundation, I will forever remain a part of ballet in some way.

MARTIN: Misty Copeland, thank you so much for talking with us.

COPELAND: Thank you so much for having me.


AMANPOUR: An amazing and graceful career. And finally, tonight, in Qatar, today's football World Cup match between England and Iran became a platform

for human rights protests. First, a planned protests that didn't happen.

Hours before the match, England's captain was told not to wear a one love armband after FIFA announced penalties for such a display. In Qatar,

homosexuality is illegal, and the armband is meant to promote LGBTQ as well as general inclusion rights. England players did take the knee before

kickoff to highlight prejudice. And for Iran, a silent protest that speaks volumes. Players stayed quiet as their national anthem played.


An apparent show of support for protesters back home as we discussed this program. And players who speak out at the World Cup do it at great personal

risk. England ended up defeating Iran, six to two, in today's match. Politics are sure to remain in spotlight as the games in Qatar continue.

That's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.