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At This Hour

Protest Rage After Death Of Woman In Custody Of Iran's Morality Police. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Protests raging on across Iran after -- over the young woman who died while in custody of the morality police there. She was in custody for violating the country's dress code. But look at these images. This new video obtained from pro-reform activists out later on wire shows protesters even chasing police, burning headscarves, and chanting death to -- death to the dictator.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is following these protests. He joins us at this hour. Jomana, what's happening there now? What more are you learning?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kate, these protests about five -- six days ago were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old while she was in the custody of the morality police. But what we've seen happen is these protests snowballed into something much more than that. You have thousands of protesters on the streets of dozens of cities from the Kurdish northwest to the capital Tehran to more conservative cities like Mashhad.

These incredible images that we are seeing coming out despite the attempts by authorities to throttle the internet in the country, just incredible images never-seen-before on the scale of the country. You've got women taking off their headscarves, burning them in defiance. They're calling for rights that this generation of Iranians has never had. And you know, this is all happening and continuing, as according to eyewitnesses on the ground and these videos that are still trickling out, despite the attempts, Kate, by the authorities to crack down violently on these protests.

We've heard from UN experts saying they're very concerned about the excessive use of force by authorities. Amnesty International saying that they documented the death of at least eight protesters. And they say that the authorities have been shooting directly at the demonstrations. Speaking to Iranians outside the country, they're really holding on to the hope that this could be a turning point for the country, the beginning of something there but also they're very concerned about the potential bloody crackdown here, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Jomana, thank you for staying on top of it. I really appreciate it. Joining me now for some more perspective on this is Neda Sharghi, her

brother, Emad, has been unjustly imprisoned in Iran for four years now. Neda, it's really good to have you here. Thank you so much.

I mean, your family is from Iran. This is why your brother originally was visiting there now, four years ago. What do you -- what do you think when you see these images, women taking off their headscarves protesting in the streets, chasing after the police even?

NEDA SHARGHI, SISTER OF AMERICAN EMAD SHARGHI HELD IN IRAN: You know, it's heartbreaking anytime you hear news of anyone, you know, dealing with violence and going through such hardship. And, you know, I was born in Iran, and I left at a very, very young age. But I, of course -- you know, I empathize with anyone who's going through such hardship. And, of course, I say to myself, you know, in the middle of all of this, we have my brother, who is still there after four and a half years along with three other American citizens. And, you know, the urgency to bring him home is even greater in my mind now.

BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to ask you. When you see this, when you see it's almost like for the Iranian people, maybe there's hope and also tragedy in -- of what they're seeing in these protests in the street, people standing up, a rising movement to speak up after the death of this young woman.


But what does this moment of turmoil, what do you think it means for your brother and the other Americans? Does it -- does it -- does it -- does it feel more urgent now than ever, that you -- that action needs to be taken?

SHARGHI: I mean, I -- what it does is it makes me wonder why it's taken so long. I mean, our administration has said early on that bringing home our Americans are our priority, that taking American hostages is something that's unacceptable. And President Biden issued an executive order several months ago, calling hostage-taking of Americans a national emergency. So it makes me wonder if they understand the issue and they want to do something about it, why they're not doing it. And you know --

BOLDUAN: And that's why you came to New York.


BOLDUAN: I mean, you came to New York to speak up during the -- during the UN meetings. And while leaders from around the world are all gathered here, including even the president of Iran is here, you came to grab the attention of one person, which is President Biden. Why did you -- why did you need to come here to try -- to try to be heard?

SHARGHI: You know, I tried to emphasize the fact that I am an American. And the power I have -- the only power I have is really to appeal to my president, to our president. And so I came to New York with my sister-in-law, Emad's wife, and his daughter, and also with families of other wrongful detainees who are part of our Bring Our Families Home campaign.

And we, you know, sat in front of the president's hotel for a couple of hours just to catch his motorcade with our flag. And we did a press conference yesterday in front of the UN because, you know, we are trying every which way we know to get his attention, to have him meet with us, and to really urge him, to beg him to do whatever he needs to do to address this humanitarian issue and bring our Americans home.

And, you know, I think your viewers will notice vinyl decals around the city with the faces of my brother and the others in Iran and all of our American hostages. And this weekend, we'll be projecting their images around New York City just to -- you know, we're trying to be as loud as possible.

BOLDUAN: You literally put a face to this.

SHARGHI: We -- literally, we're like -- you know, we had rallies in front of the White House.

BOLDUAN: Well, and you've asked -- you've asked for a face-to-face meeting with the president.


BOLDUAN: Have you heard anything from the White House?

SHARGHI: Not on the face-to-face meeting, no. No. And, you know, I think ultimately for us, that's -- that is the sort of signal we get that they're planning to do something urgently and quickly. You know, these are Americans who are being taken because they're Americans. No other reason. And it's important, I think -- I mean it's our patriotic duty to bring them home because they were taken there Americans, only our American government can bring them home.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Neda Sharghi, sister, mother, American, and now accidental, activist --

SHARGHI: Activist.

BOLDUAN: -- To try to get your brother home. Thank you so much for coming on to speak with me.

SHARGHI: Thank you for putting a spotlight on this issue. We appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Thank you so much. We'll continue to cover.

SHARGHI: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. A United Airlines Flight makes an emergency landing after a mechanical issue was causing sparks to fly, details about this mid-air scare still coming in. That's next.


[11:42:22] BOLDUAN: New this morning, a United Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing overnight after sparks were seen flying off the plane and debris fell from the aircraft just after takeoff. CNN's Pete Muntean is live in Washington gathering some more information about what really happened here. Pete, what are you hearing about this?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, thankfully, a good outcome here Kate. In a testament that the flight crew air traffic controllers and the engineering of this plane, Boeing 777-200, we're getting new details now from United Airlines about flight 149 just after it took off from Newark Liberty International Airport. Video surfacing online right now where you can see a shower of sparks coming out of the plane as the landing gear is going up.

This flight was fully loaded and was bound to San Paulo, Brazil. And then you can see in the FlightAware track here, but orbited over the Atlantic Ocean east of the Jersey shore to burn off fuel, the plane simply too heavy to come back in and land right away. After about an hour of that, the flight came back in to Newark, landed safely without incident, thankfully. 256 people on board, not hurt.

What is so interesting here, though, Kate, is that United was pretty quickly able to determine the source of the problem here. They say this was a problem with a pump in the hydraulic system. That is really key because that's like the blood of the airplane. It runs some really critical systems like the landing gear, the flaps used for takeoff and landing, also the brakes. The good news here is that on the 777, there are three independent hydraulic systems, triple redundancy, so two of those systems can fail and the plane can still fly normally. One of the reasons why there was a good outcome and all of this, really no big deal after this plane came in and back and landed.


We're still waiting to hear though from United. One of these passengers will ultimately make it to Brazil. It seems like they're going to bring in another airplane to do that.

BOLDUAN: Yes. You think so? It's good to see you, Pete. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Coming up for us. Two people trying to bring their community and the world together, really through the power of music. Victor Blackwell is joining us next with his "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE."



BOLDUAN: "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE," CNN's week-long series bringing you extraordinary people working every day to change lives and make the world a better place. Music is often a part of -- a part of major movements, but can it be the start of one? My colleague, Victor Blackwell, introduces all of us now to two musicians who are trying to bring the world together through the power of song.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Music is so powerful. If you ever want to understand people, a place, a time, listen to their music.

TODD MACK, FOUNDER/DIRECTOR, MUSIC IN COMMON: Music is a universal language, it's just a fantastic force to bring people together.

BLACKWELL: Todd has been doing this for more than a decade now. His organization, Music in Common, is evolved into creating these conversations through music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This little light of mine, I want to let it shine --

BLACKWELL: Going city to city to bring different races and different religions together.

MACK: I started in response to the murder of my friend, Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter and he and I were bandmates and good friends. It was just sort of a call to action for me to harness that power of music to combat the hate that drove his murder.

BLACKWELL: How did you meet Trey?

MACK: Trey was one of our program participants about six years ago.


TREY CARLISLE, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, MUSIC IN COMMON: A really grateful roundtable discussion.

MACK: It's been fantastic to see him rise in the organization. Trey, in my opinion, is the poster child for Gen Z. He is simultaneously young at heart and wise beyond his years. And I learned from this guy every day.

BLACKWELL: For someone so young to live along Sweet Auburn in Atlanta and to absorb and appreciate the history around him to try to ease some of the sufferings across this country, it's admirable.

CARLISLE: So to be able to share the home of the king, the home of Congressman John Lewis, it really gives us inspiration and direction for us to build a world where we embody more equity and belonging.

BLACKWELL: They, in 2020 solved the problem that the entire world saw and said, what can we do with our talents, with our love, with our passion of music, and this problem that we need to face?

CARLISLE: So we thought how can we bring the Music In Common does to engage in this context? There are songs that have been written by black and white folks alike throughout the 400-year history of race relations in the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shall overcome.

CARLISLE: That are -- they still ring true today. And that became the grounds for the Black Legacy Project. We will travel to communities, read word about the roundtables, engage in this healing dialogue where they can recognize the shared humanity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The willingness for people to share.

CARLISLE: Using these historic songs as the talking point to do so. And then from that those conversations of local black and white artists create present-day interpretations of those songs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have every voice in singing.

CARLISLE: And then co-write an original about how we can move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is about more. We're just not doing the walk down.

CARLISLE: And then the project culminates with a showcase of the songs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Black Legacy Project.

CARLISLE: And that is something that we promote to the entire local community so people of all backgrounds can come and see.

BLACKWELL: This is a really innovative way to approach topics difficult to talk about, and through those conversations bring about change. But you are musicians. You used what you have to try to change and improve race relations in this country. What's the message for them?

MACK: We have a five-word motto. Music can change the world. And I think that's the answer.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Victor Blackwell is here. It's good to see you.

BLACKWELL: Likewise.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for bringing this. I was weird talking in the -- in the piece how it's so nice that we didn't -- I didn't see beforehand.


BOLDUAN: So I could like learn more about it.


BOLDUAN: I love to hear you say that they use -- they start new conversations through music but they're also creating new music.

BLACKWELL: Yes. They're creating new music. Beyond reimagining the songs of the past, they -- the musicians, they get together and write new music. So those songs then become part of a history of race relations in each of the cities that they visit. So far, they've been to the Berkshire's, the Ozarks, they were in Denver last week, LA comes up next, and then on to the Mississippi Delta, Atlanta which -- you know I lived there for nine years, I know there's some good music in Atlanta, and then on to Boise, Idaho. So the project is moving around the country.


BOLDUAN: Even though I've never lived in Atlanta, I can also attest. I think many of us think that there's good music in Atlanta.

BLACKWELL: Oh, there certainly is. There certainly is. So I'll be looking forward to seeing what comes out of Atlanta.

BOLDUAN: I noticed that you didn't really test out your musical ability or something.

BLACKWELL: You know, I played the flute in element.

BOLDUAN: You did?

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes.

BOLDUAN: So did i.

BLACKWELL: Why did you choose the flute though?

BOLDUAN: Because it was -- it was a small key.

BLACKWELL: And that's the same reason. I was not going to be one of the tuba guys. I put that in my backpack that's why I took the flute.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for bringing this, Victor.


BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it. We're going to continue to share more of these inspirational stories all throughout the week, then coming together for one-hour "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" special this Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Thank you so much for being here, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this.