07/09/2011 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.

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President Assad's gunmen open fire on unarmed civilian, the reality of


life inside the city of Homs. Shot in the stomach and too scared


even to get first aid at one of the country's hospitals, this man


reached London last night. He brings a firsthand account of life


under attack by a dictator's thugs. Also tonight, the brewing world


currency crisis, this was the best the euro's public defender could


come up with today. No, there is nothing provided for leaving the


eurozone, it is not a cafe, you go in and you go out. That's all right


then. I'm pro-choice, I am pro- choice, despite the fact that I am


represented as pro-life in every newspaper.


And the MP who wanted to change the abortion laws is comprehensively


defeated in the House of Commons s it time for her to give up. Look


here is the deal mi, momdad split up, because my dad decided to stay


in Lebanon, even though he's will he be nee, but not a suicide bomber.


- will he be knees but not - Lebanese but not a suicide bomber.


Can comedy bridge the gap between Islam and the best.


Forces loyal to the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, killed, perhaps,


14 more of their countrymen today. As ever the details are very hard


to come from, since foreign observers are banned from the


country. The attack came in Homs, which is Syria's third city, and is


under attack for days now. If Assad's thugs think they can get


away with their killing completely without witnesses, they are wrong.


A British citizen of Syrian descent was shot in Homs ten days ago. He


and his family fled Syria, arriving in the UK last night. How


frequently are these demonstrations taking place? Every day. Every day


at night they come out about 5,000, in every area, in Homs. This is


despite the fact that people shoot into the crowd? Yeah, of course.


They shoot us every day. They come in cars, armies come in and tanks


sometimes. Without us even knowing. Have you seen tanks? I have seen


everything. Have you lost friends? I have lost 14 of my friends. I


actually lost one today. Shot? They have all been shot, bombed


away, shot. Taken to prison, came out dead. You filmed one of these


demonstrations on your mobile phone, we are going to look at the


pictures now, and let's run them now and have a look at them.


It is quite hard to work out exactly what is happening here. You


are running, holding your phone? Yep. And we see just, we saw just


at the edge of the frame there a body lying on the ground. Do you


recall how many people were shot down in that? There was about two


shot in that ground. You got used to bodies. When you are living and


going out on these protests every day, you get used to seeing bodies


every day. You are going to have to drag them off the floor, pick them


up or take people to hospital. you see the people doing the


shooting? Army. Security, people wearing...In Uniform? And people


wearing civilian clothes going out with them. They have mn guns, bomb,


everything. - machine guns, bombs, everything. Are they aiming or


firing indiscriminatly into the crowds? Three carters of the shots


are aimed, one quarter - three quarters of the shots are aimed,


one quarter just to scare people. After that particular demonstration


we just saw there, you yourself were attacked and shot? Yes, of


course. What happened? Actually it was about two days after that, I


was sitting at night, standing with my friend talking about medication,


food, we were actually going to take it to Hama. They need a lot of


medication and food. That is in another town? That is a another


town. We have to smuggle it in there. If the security actually


catch medication with us and food, they will actually take it out and


burn it. So you were standing around talking with your friend?


What happened? Car came by and through a grenade, I actually


thought it was a firework. I looked at my friend and said it is not


even time for that kind of stuff. It is funny, fireworks and shooting,


it is not time for that shooting now. The car parked right behind me,


two metres behind me and the car, opened the window and started


shooting. I didn't feel the bullet in the beginning. Did you see the


gun, handgun or a rifle? It was handgun. You felt the bullet?


about two seconds. Where did he shoot you? In my waist and it came


out my back. If it wasn't for my friend I would be killed. He


actually threw me on the floor, stood in front of me, they shot him


three times in the stomach, leg and hand. What happened then? The car


ran away. As usual. It took the people about five minutes to get to


us. I wasn't shouting, and my friend was unconscious. Then I


started shouting and everyone saw us, dragged us on the floor. They


couldn't pick us up, there was only two. Actually dragged me. Then the


people, everyone came, started picking us up and took us to


hospitals. When you got to the hospital, what happened there?


stayed for about 40 minutes the. They had to let me out quickly.


Why? Because the security forces would actually come to the hospital.


If they find anybody with an injury, even in the leg, you come out with


an injury through the head. You get shot in the head. You had a bullet


passed through your body, it requires more than one visit to a


hospital, did you go back to the hospital? Of course, not, no. I


can't go back to the hospital, they will be there waiting for people to


come back. I didn't even go in my name, they put a stranger's name


there, they wait for people to come back the next day. They shoot at


night waith in the morning. They go at night to the hospitals too. We


have hospitals in houses. people's houses, where doctors can


look after you a little bit? Which they find and destroy and burn.


did you get out of the country? Really easy actually, I just went


to the airport and left. The Government is so stupid, the Syrian


Government, I have never seen anybody so stupid, they think


Facebook is a device. They ask people where's Facebook. Where's


your Facebook, why haven't you got Facebook with you. They didn't pat


you down, frisk you, you presumably were swatheed in bandages? I told


them I had an operation a kidney operation, they believed it and let


me in. You were carrying a British passport. I had a British passport,


that is actually why they wouldn't dare say anything. If I had a


British or American or any European passport they let me through didn't


say anything. Would you think about going back? Hopefully I will.


Hopefully, you want to go back? want to go back. Why? Well, my


friend are being killed every single day. I like being there, I


like helping people. I have got used to helping people. It has been


my life for six months. It has been my life. I haven't got a job, I'm


not even studying, that is how everybody is now in Homs, and most


of Syria. No jobs, no studying, that is our life. Do you believe


eventually you will topple him? yeah, we will. But he has all the


guns? He can't stop us, he will have to kill millions to stop us.


People won't stop. If we stop that would be the end of us. He will


actually get us one by one, we know. That he has videos of every single


protestor going out, he will catch us one by one if we stop. It gets


calm for day or two. Thank you very much. You are very


welcome. Oh, not to be in Euroland now that


autumn is here, but where to be instead. The economic crisis is


generating a monetary crisis like some pin ball machine, vast sums of


money are going here and there as investors try to find a safe haven.


The authorities in Switzerland are so alarmed by the in rush, they


have tried to set a ceiling on the value of the Swiss franc.


When back street players shoot craps, they bet against each other.


It is case of, I win, you loose. An easy way to get yourself fleeced.


Now the global currency markets are looks like a craps game, the stakes


rising, everybody trying to load the dice. Suddenly we are seeing


big swings in the currency markets. Some Governments are intervene to


go depress the value of their currencies, the euro, to stop it


breaking up. Why? It was the Swiss, yesterday, who


made the latest move, they fixed a flaw for the Swiss franc against


the euro and promised to spend unlimited amounts of money to make


it stick. The Swiss themselves have argued that the market is pushing


the Swiss franc to a point where it is becoming harmful for Switzerland


itself. It is creating disinflationary, deflationry


pressures. It is making their exports totally uncompetitive, and


they just feel it is a complete misalignment, that the market is


not capable, really, of having a fair and free value for the Swiss


franc. But there are bigger currencies


than the Swiss in play. The dollar, as America gets ready


for a third round of quoosing, is having a big im- quantitative


easing, is having a big impact. After the Leeming crisis hit,


Governments, above all - Lehman crisis hit, Governments above all


started to print money. Money flows to Japan, and Brazil, forcing their


currencies to rise, they are fighting back. I don't think we are


facing a currency war, we are escalating within the context of


currency wars. Where this is leaving us is that many countries


in the world do not want to have the other side of dollar weakness,


but I am afraid, with the situation in the US, with them having zero


interest rates, practically exhausted fiscal policy, they have


tried QE1, QE-2, there is talk of QE3, the one thing the US has left


is a weaker dollar, the world will have to accept stronger currencies.


It was the man who now runs America's Central Bank, who taught


us that in the 1930s, those who devalued first, recovered first.


Now, as everybody tries to devalue, some think the shadow of the 1930s


looms large. Quantitative easing, printing of money, intervention in


currency markets, whether it is the Swiss or the Japanese, or anybody


else, is really the same thing about trying to steal some sort of


competitive advantage against the risk of economic decline and


deterioration. What happens when everybody does it? The danger is


that if we all do this, in uncontrolled fashion, we will just


drive ourselves into a depression where nobody actually wins.


While some countries devalue against each other, to try to


compete their way out of the crisis, the irony is, the countries that


might like to, can't, southern Europe, stuck within the eurozone,


is stagnating, so the tensions within the single currency are


rising. Italy tonight voted for a new


austerity programme in the teeth of strikes and protests. In Germany, a


crucial court decision paved the way for the Greek bailout. But


economists think the permanent solution is Euro-bonds, effectively


pooling the national debts of all the countries in the eurozone.


Today, the President of the European Council was in London, and


when asked about how we get out of this mess, he said he wasn't


interested in megaphone diplomacy. It is very difficult to hear you


refusing to share your proposals to the European people. If, for


example, you are in favour of Euro- bonds, surely you state you are in


favour of them. That is not megaphone diplomacy, it is just


democracy? After refusing to answer my question, he eventually answered


it from somebody else. It is not a solution tomorrow to say let's


create what we call Euro-bonds and put all the sovereign bonds in one


basket, the good ones, the bad one, the weak ones, the strong ones,


where we do something together. No, we can envisage all this, we have


to consider all options, but always, in the framework of fiscal


discipline. Some experts believe that Euro-bonds, for legal and


economic reasons, will never fly. What would happen essentially is


the French and Germans would be guarnteeing virtually the entire


deficits and debts of Italy and Spain and so on, which would be


raising their own funding cost as a consequence. They would essentially


end up with a level of indebtedness fairly similar to Italy today, that


is completely inconceivable they would agree to that. Another thing


to note about this is the German constitutional court's judgment


today pretty much, in essence, rules out the possibility of Euro-


bonds, it says Euro-bond, in effect, would violate the German


constitution. All over the world politicians are trying to remove


their currencies from the pressure of the markets. The markets,


meanwhile believe it can't be done, that the truth will out. Some money,


right now is flowing out of the European banks, and investors are


fleeing Spain and Italy, and developments like this pose


questions you just can't refuse to answer.


And every day of economic turmoil brings another throw of the dice.


Two wisemen, two wise women. Gillian Tett, the US managing


editor of the Financial Times is here, the economist, Vicky Pryce,


Conservative MP and former Deutsche Bank executive, Sajid Javid, and


joining us from Brussels is Richard Corbett, a former Labour MEP who


now advises the President. Will the euro survive? It is entering very


dangerous trry. The eurozone leaders now have been playing for


time. They have been kicking the can down the road, that a bit of


growth would bail them out. What has changed in the last few weeks


is the markets have realised that time isn't going to solve this. The


economy economies are far from growing and slowing down, and the


markets are getting more panicked. Do either of you think the euro


will survive? It will have to, there is no way to let it go, the


costs for everyone involved would be so huge, it can't be


contemplated. The constitution court can say what it likes to


Merkel, but actually, if they need to lend for more the euro to


survive they will. It absolutely will not survive in its current


form, it was a project flawed from the beginning, an A-level student


could have told you that. It has turned into a bankruptcy machine,


it was always destined to. If you look at the countries experiencing


the greatest problems, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, the causes might


be different, but the trigger is the same, the euro. If apocalypse


will be avoided, how can it be avoided for the euro, if anybody


cares? The real point is it can't survive in the current form. We all


agree we can't have the countries being allowed, if you like, to


carry on borrowing without doing anything major about the way they


run their economy. We have inevitably have to move towards


greater union, a fiscal union doesn't mean all fiscal policies


will be the same, actually there will be a lot more co-ordination of


policies across. If that is achieved and package developed in


the future. Everybody realise that is Greece won't be able to meet the


austerity plan at the moment. If there is an allowance for countries


like Greece and others, to reform their economy, to benefit in the


long-term from being in the euro, that is the requirement. Do you


that is feasible? It is two appalling choice, the cost of


breakup would be huge. UBS, the investment bank, have done a study


on the costs, they estimate it would be 10,000 euros per person in


the year and for more stronger countries. The cost of staying


together will be huge politically as well. Actually, in Germany there


is going to be probably extreme tension about the idea of bailing


out their neighbours. And whatever choice you take right now it will


be very nasty. That is why markets are so concerned. Mr Corbett, this


makes your man, Mr Van Rompuy, seem pretty irrelevant, doesn't it?


job is to get consensus out of the various Governments involved. But


interestingly, the first part of your piece just now was a reminder


of the problems of having separate currencies that fluctuate against


each other, with potential competitive devaluations, that is


why most countries in Europe decided that you are better off


having a single currency for the single market. And the euro as a


whole, let's remember, remains a strong currency, it has gone up


against the dollar and the pound, it has got stable, low inflation,


it has a balance of payments, and it is overall lower public debt


than the US or Japan. We have a problem of debts in a number of


countries across the world, three of which are in the eurozone, and


are being helped by their partners, with loo loans, not grants. Loans -


loans, not grants, to help them take turn the corner. That


sovereign debt is not peculiar to the eurozone. If Europe had


separate currencies still today, the problems that Italy, Spain and


Greece is experiencing right now, they would have dealt with it in


the old fashioned way, they would allow their currency to depreciate,


and we wouldn't have the kind of problems we are seeing now. In fact,


I would go further, fiscal union cannot work. Let's be clear what


fiscal union means, it means a single Treasury, single Finance


Minister. One Chancellor of the Exchequer for the whole lot? It is


hugely undemocratic, it won't work for the same reasons it didn't work


in the first place. Is that what it would mean, one central Treasury


making rules across the eurozone? Do you really think that is likely,


that 17 European countries will hand over their entire Treasury to


one Treasury. No country would have more power than an English County


Council, that is what it means. They are going in that direction.


don't think you will find most countries in Europe signing up for


something in the way you have portrayed it. Yes, you need


countries to agree to the common rules that they have all agreed to


avoid excessive deficits and debts. That does not mean that the central


authorities take over all the Treasury responsibilities for the


member states, of course not. will talk about central authorities


in a moment or two, is the idea viable? We are tiptoeing towards


closer union if there isn't a break-up. There is a piece in the


Financial Times tomorrow from members of the Dutch Government,


suggesting there should be closer scrutiny of each other's budgets


and the ability to block them where necessary. That is indicating a


trend. The choices are appalling now, if there is not going to be


tighter union, it will have to be a break up. Loot depends on how you


define the union, which is what - a lot depends on how you define the


union. You don't need one Chancellor of the Exchequer doing


it all, but you do need to have all the countries involved making the


decisions. Do you think Mr Van Rompuy is giving political


leadership when all the decisions are being made by Angela Merkel and


Nicolas Sarkozy? There is a problem of democratic deficiency here, that


is really what the various voters in Germany and elsewhere have been


telling Merkel for the first instance, and what is going on in


Greece aup to a point in Italy right now. You can visualise a


situation happening, otherwise we will end up with the breaking up.


There was a fascinating speech, where it was point the out, as


President of the European Central Bank, that the level of divergance


across the eurozone is less than the divergance across the United


States. As we have heard from Brussels, the actual level of debt


to GDP is lower than the US, and the divergance is less, if it was


run on or a closer basis it would work. That is the key point


polictically, on paper fiscal union should work, like it works in


Australia and the United States, but in practice it is impossible.


You won't get several sovereign national nations with a long


history of sovereign Government to agree and pool powers. What is Mr


Van Rompuy's strategy? Mr Van Rompuy's strategy is to chair


meetings of the heads of 17 democracies, all democrat clo


accountable through their own system, and to - democratically


accountable through their own system and get agreement from them.


It is not an easy task, it takes all 17 to reach agreement to the


eurozone. Not easy, that is a fair point. Monetary union of 17


different democracies is not easy to run. All of them, however, agree,


we need a higher level of convergance than we have had up to


now. That doesn't mean handing over your sovereignity entirely to some


central authority, it means a greater degree of policy


consultation than we have had up to now. What would Europe be like


without the euro? In the short-term it would be extremely bloody and


brutal, and a very nasty run on the banking system. It would be pretty


chaotic, in the medium to long-term, I would imagine we would see the


stronger countries coming together. The idea of the eurozone breaking


up t wouldn't mean the whole eurozone breaking up, there is an


interesting in the stronger countries coming together. It would


be extremely messy. What do we mean by convergance, we are stuck in


definitions, we don't want the countries to be the same, there is


no way, it is good to have differences, you don't want them


all to come down statement or recovering statement. You wantm -


at the same time, or recovering at the same time. We have seen greater


divergance in that case, we have seen Germany being very competitive,


and Greece moving into the other direction. The divergence in Europe


has meant that prices everywhere have gone up, to equate, if you


like, with the ones in central and northern Europe, we have ended up


with countries like Greece being so prohibitly expensive to do business


The controversial plan to change the abortion laws in this country


was defeated in the House of Commons this afternoon. The


Conservative backbencher, Nadine Dorries, had hoped to make it


impossible for organisations to carry out terminations to provide


the counselling beforehand. It was comprehensively defeated, we


watched it all. Why did the Dorries amendment fail? The first thing to


say is the Government did commit to a review of abortion advice, which


depending on your view of Government reviews is either good


news or not good news. In terms of the amendment itself, I think one


of the big reasons it failed was that Government ministers,


Government health ministers, although it was technically a free


vote, Government health ministers signalled their opposition to it.


The offer of this review was enough to see the co-sponsor of the


amendment to the bill, Frank Field, withdraw his support. The


Government ministers took the view today, of all days, being the day


that the Health and Social Care Bill went through its final Commons


stages. The Dorries amendment was part of it. This was the day they


supremely wanted to show a modern, forward-facing Conservative Party,


and they didn't want to get into this sort of thing. I think the


main reason it failed was that abortion, of course, is a supremely


polarising issue. For a lot of Conservative MPs, particularly, who


may be very thoughtful about these issues, and are sympathetic to what


Nadine Dorries was trying to do. It was just not the quite right time.


Or the right issue. Defeated by 250 votes yet you claim a tremendous


result? It was a tremendous result. Four weeks ago there was never any


spotlight shone on the abortion industry or counselling. As a


result of the amendment the Government have agreed to get a


consultation in January, but also to, as the minister said today, in


her winding up speech, to take the spirit of this amendment and


introduce it via secondary legislation. But they are not going


to stop organisations which provide abortions from counselling, are


they? If you is that i, you are saying that the consultation has


been predetermined. If the Government agreed with you, they


could have whipped their MPs and made them vote for the amendment?


don't think it was actually that easy. We do know there are a lot of


tactic that is are in play by the Liberal Democrats. Who were almost


blackmailing the Government. They had this amendment going through,


that the Liberal Democrats would vote the bill down in the Lords.


That was a very dangerous situation. And the Government had to whip. The


Prime Minister agrees with this amendment. He agrees the objectives


of the amendment, but unfortunately the Liberal Democrats made it so


difficult that the Government had to whip against it today. But as


the minister said, it will be introduced, the spirit of this


amendment, if the consultation bears it out, will be introduced


using secondary legislation. Liberal Democrats are running this


Government? The Liberal Democrats are in coalition with this


Government. They are part of this Government. But one might say they


possibly have far too much influence on issues like the health


bill, immigration, Free Schools and abortion today. What did you make


of the Prime Minister's response when you raised that with him today


in Prime Minister's Questions. We can have a look at it. Mr Speaker


the Liberal Democrats make up 7% of this parliament yet they seem to be


influencing our Free School policy, health, many issues, immigration


and abortion. Does the Prime Minister think it is about time he


told the deputy Prime Minister who is the boss. I know the honourable


lady is extremely frustrated about...maybe I should start all


over again. I'm going to give up on this one.


What did you make of that? Actually the Prime Minister contacted me


afterwards and told me that what he wanted to say was that he had


supported the amendment, supported the aims and objective, but


unfortunately it was a difficult day to do that today. For a variety


of reasons. I don't think he intended to respond. I believe him


when he said that I believed him. I think he was just caught unawares


by what happened with the party opposite, and the response.


whole of the House of Commons, including plenty of people on your


benches, seemed to find it hysterically funny when he talked


about you being very frustrated, that tells you something about the


atmosphere of the House of Commons and its general juvinillity?


knows how cross I am at how much influence the Liberal Democrats


have had, not just on this policy, but this particular one, that I


have worked for six years on. I'm very angry because I have discussed


this with the Prime Minister, I know he agrees with it. I know he's


pro-choice, but he's sensitive to these issues. He don't like the


idea that abuse may take place in the system. Did anyone apologise


for the way the House of Commons behaved? No, but the Prime Minister


apologised to me personally. didn't think it was another of


those "calm down, dear" moments? I don't. Because they are not


planned, he doesn't stand up, the Prime Minister had no idea I was


going to ask him that question. If he did know I was going to ask him


that question, and responded like that. Then one would think


something was Machiavellian in his response, he had no idea I was


going to be called. In four days time it will be the


tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack, which reshaped our world.


The decade since has been characterised by war, fear and


suspicion, we have been repeatedly told that what is at issue isn't


religion, yet the chasam between Islam and the west still seems vast,


in a recent poll 47% of Americans said the values of Islam were


inxatable with the values of America don incompatible with the


values of America. Is it possible that a popular culture could help


bridge the divide. In the US you don't have to look


too hard to find negative images of Muslims. This attack on the United


States will also be a revenge attack for all mu Jihad Dean.


For some, they are the enemy within. The ultimate, perhaps, was the


vitriolic campaign against the so- called Ground Zero mosque.


mosque, no mosque. A horrified liberal America decided a cultural


counter-attack was in order. Maybe we need a Muslim version of


the Cosby show. I know that sounds crazy, but The Cosby Show did so


much to change attitudes about African-Americans in this country.


I think sometimes people are afraid of things they don't understand.


A seething hatred is the way US broadcaster, Katie Couric,


described the way some Americans feel about Muslims. Her suggestion


of using a mainstream sitcom to counter prejudice has been both


praised and ridiculed. But that show already exists, just a few


Little Mosque On The Prairie is about Muslims and Christians,


attempting to live in harmony in the fictional town of Mercy.


My point is this, wine gums, rie bread, liquorice, western traps to


draw Muslims into drinking alcohol. His sermons drive me to drink


alcohol. Patience daughter, it is his last sermon. It has been a huge


success in Canada. Give me a hug. Currently recording the sixth


series, sold to more than 80 countries worldwide, though not the


US or the UK. The series centres on the arrival


to the prairie of a liberal, Canadian-born Imam. We don't go out


to be an issue-based show, we are a comedy, like The Cosby Show was, we


are not a political comedy, we are a comedy with Islam as a backdrop,


because some of the characters happen to be Muslim. That is what


makes everyone feel more assimilated from both points of


view, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. We had a fan of the show who says I


love what you do on Little Mosque, that is pretty high praise coming


from a Jew. That is what the woman said.


Did you see what I just saw. eyes, those eyes. Starting to look


like the third world around here. Even the executive who is made


Little Mosque were worried, when Little Mosque went on air, how


would the community react. Some orthodox Muslims said it was wrong


and we shouldn't do this. There wasn't a huge rallying cry to kill


me or burn my house. We are on set in Toronto and getting ready for


the big opening scene from season six, two of the main characters are


arriving back from honeymoon, and of course they are expecting some


trouble with airport security. are The comedy has been described


as more Vicar of Dibly than Four Lions. There is a healthy helping


of suicide bomber jokes. Here is the deal, my mom and dad split up,


and my dad decided to stay in Lebanon, he's Lebanese but not a


suicide bomber. Look, not every Muslim is a terrorist, OK.


It's not been an entirely smooth ride, though. Little Mosque manage


to cause a slight diplomatic spat between the US and Canada. Tonight


the tables are some what turned, newly released cables contain


diplomatic exchanges about CBC television. So this cable was from


the US Embassy in Ottawa to Washington and accused the


programme of insidious, populist sterotyping of Americans in Canada.


Shows like Little Mosque On The Prairie set off alarms at the


embassy, showing a US man abusing Canadians. They would spend their


time watching Little Mosque On The Prairie, I would have thought they


had other things to do. It was all much to the despair of American


Canadian executive producer, Mary Darley. I sat down immediately and


drafted a letter to Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and had my


assistant pull together the past season. I found this letter, and


Hillary Clinton got it when she said, thank you for everything you


are doing to foster cross cultural unity and understanding through


comedy. Do you worry about being preachy, it is supposed to be


funny? Completely, being preachy is something we have watched all the


way through. The rights for the programme were acquired by Fox in


the US, but it was never remade. Zarqa Nawaz says she has written


and pitched her version of the Muslim Cosby show four times


already in the states. Four times it has failed to make it to pilot.


That could mean the shows aren't funny enough, she is already


feeling the heat that goes with this territory. Immediately you see


your name on a blog and it is associated with those typical words


like Jihadist, or pro-Sharia. You don't want a network to suddenly


say, oh my God, is it really true, is she seven stage ways from Osama


Bin Laden. It does worry me, for sure. Does the US need this. The


Cosby Show ran for eight sow sons from 1984, and credited with


changing attitudes to African- Americans. The Daily Show thinks


the idea of Muslim version is hilarious. Next time, a special


visit from the Prophet Mohammed. no, no.


Cut, cut, cut. No, no. While the states continues to debate the


reality, inroads are being made into possibly the most American of


pop culture. The 99 comics features a team of Islam-inspired superhero,


most recently involved in a crossover with the Justice League


of America, fighting alongside superman and Batman. President


Obama has praised the comics for bridge agricultural divide. The


animated version of The 99 is in production. We as American Muslims


were completely absent from pop culture. Unfortunately after 9/11


people only looked as Muslims as immigrants and immigrants as


Muslims. To get our voice out there we needed to be comedians, actors,


writers, singers, in every sphere, basically. There is an argument


that Muslims will never be completely normalised in the west,


until a woman in a hijab is selling us washing up liquid, maybe that


will be the real superhuman feat. With us now is Caryn Mandabach, the


US TV producer behind The Cosby Show, among others, and Naif Al


Mutawa, the creator The 99, the Islam-inspired comic book featured


in the film in New York. Will it air in the states as far as you


know? As far as I know, it has been bought and paid for, we are waiting


for a date. What will be the effect, do you imagine? It's good content,


it is top teir, it is written by the writers behind Ben 10, Batman


and superman. I think kids will love it, and show the values we


share as human beings are more than divides us. You don't feel you are


puting it out into a hostile environment? I didn't feel that


when I started, but I'm getting tinges of it now. It hasn't been


put in the schedules yet? No it wasn't. It was bought over a year


ago. How do you explain the delay? It is best for the broadcaster to


explain. That when President Obama talked about The 99, and it brought


to us the people's attention, and the people who talked about the


Norwegian killer, they came after us, and it led to jitters in the


broadcaster, the date kept getting shifted. The thing is the


broadcaster is also in the same situation we are in, it is a


hostile political environment in the US. They are doing the best


they can for their business. Sometimes it is not exactly what is


best for us. Caryn Mandabach, how important, or


how powerful is the capacity of shows on television to change


people's attitudes? It is huge when it works. But I think now network


shares are down significantly. The Cosby Show premiered to a 28 rating,


I don't know what the share was, which meant over 31 million people


were premiering, we were up against Magnum PI, we thought we would come


in second, now a highly rated show is six million people. What do you


put down to the success of it? was huge, it showed we had more in


common than differences. Human beings being human beings, whatever


culture and language they speak and long to, and God, our centres are


the same? He was a man in search of the perfect nap. Why hasn't Little


Mosque On The Prairie gone to the states? There is no preawareness,


you have to have a marketable item, whether an actor, or a comic book,


or some sort of thing to hang it on. It could be that it is just not


very funny? It could be a great comic who know 40 million people


himself, Cosby had played to so many audiences for so many years,


he had a gigantic peer awareness and it was brilliant. Do you think


it is the function of the media to change human behaviour?


directly, but the function to impact culture, and in America to


impact culture in such a way that you can sell soap. That's all?


What's the function of The 99? know, as a psychologist and a


father, I believe if you tell your children enough time they are


stupid, they will start believing they are stupid. If you tell them


enough times they are a terrorist, they will start believing that. I


think the media has a responsibility to reflect reality,


but at the same time it can create alternative realities. One of the


lessons I learned from The Cosby Show, I implemented it in the comic,


we don't discuss religions, they are from 99 different countries,


and they learn to appreciate each other's powers, that is how


multiculturalism and diversity comes out, it is not done directly.


You almost sound like a missionary? The name is Mutawa, now the title.


For me, I grew up, my parents made the mistake of their lifetime, I


was eight years old, my Arab Muslim parents accidentally sent me to a


Jewish summer camp in New Hampshire, I ended up going there for years. I


didn't figure out until year seven and didn't tell anybody, now my own


kids go there. I learned very early on, I grew up in Kuwait and went to


summer camp in New Hampshire, and had to navigate the line closely.


In the end saw more of the same than differences. I wanted to be


able to communicate. Growing up post 9/11, my kids, seeing the kids


they see on TV, and who represents Muslims, it is pretty scary. That


stuff feeds back negatively. I wanted to make a difference and


change that, this is the method I chose. What do you make of that?


Great, I hope he's a great success. For large commercial success like


The Cosby Show to make an impact, you have to have a huge amount of


buy-in, in advance, people have to know something about, it is just


really difficult, it is a tough market. Like I said, the difference


between premiering at a six rating and a 32 rating tells the tale now.


You can't get a whole bunch of eyeballs any more in one place.


television can't have the power it used to have? It doesn't. Given


fewer people watch it? There is a lot of reasons, that is one of them.


The others? Broadcast network now is all corporatised. Here you are


used to a human-scaled business, there it is 100% corporatised, it


is self-dealt, they buy from themselves. They are only really


interested in their 19% perquarter, they have a much different God in


America than here, you answer to something different here. That's


what he's up against now. Do you still have this great belief in


television in New York? Are you asking me? Yes? I mean, you know, I


do believe that television will be important for us. I do plof that we


have incredible content. Cartoon Network acquired it for Asia. It


will be playing all over the world, and some parts of Europe, except


the US, even though it was the first market that boigt it. I think


TV is a way. You need to get into licensing and games, which


hopefully it down the pipe for us. The film is launching at the New


York Film Festival, further proof that what we have is something that


is worth its salt. Good luck, thanks.


Tomorrow morning's front pages now. The Financial Times has news that


the criminal, there is going to be a criminal element to the American


That's the long and short of it tonight, tomorrow you have the


pleasure of Gavin's company, it is not an opportunity that comes along


every day, make the most of it. Goodnight.


The wind will die down a little bit tonight. It won't be as strong on


Thursday, looking a cloudy day. Most places seeing outbreaks of


rain, some sunshine here and there across parts of eastern Scotland,


for example. And also to the east of the Pennines. To the west of the


opinion nines, grey day with outbreaks of rain. Dull and down


through the Midlands, East Anglia and the south-east. That breeze


will bring an awful lot of cloud, sitting over moors and the south


west England, a glum day here, and also across Wales, a lot of cloud,


outbreaks of rain, nothing too heavy, pepping up later in the day.


For Northern Ireland it is a similar picture, there may be a


hint of brightersness, but overall a gloomy day. Sunny spells in


Scotland but a whole host of showers packing in from the west.


Largely dry in the east of Scotland with some spells of sunshine. As we


head into Friday, the winds will pick up again, introducing warmer


air. With sunshine on Friday it could feel warm. Scotland there


will be outbreaks of rain. Dryer and brighter across England and


Wales. Temperatures on Friday could reach 22 or 23 Celsius. Grey across


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