CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND
Aired October 13, 2001 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Islamic anger. Why so much rage against the United States? And what does it mean for the future? Joining us from Qatar with the latest developments, Muntaha Ramahi of Al-Jazeera television. Then, from northern Afghanistan, acting foreign minister of the United Front, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. From Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestinian Council member Hanan Ashrawi.
From Lahore, Pakistan, the chairman of the Justice Party, Imran Khan. And a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, Tahmeena Faryal. We were asked to keep her face hidden for security reason. Plus, a conversation with his Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan. He is moderator of the World Conference on Religion and Peace and brother of the late King Hussein.
It's all next including your calls on LARRY KING LIVE.
First, the headlines of the day. A seventh day of air strikes against targets in Afghanistan. The Pentagon says a U.S. bomb meant to take out a helicopter at Kabul Airport missed, hit a residential area a mile away. The al Qaeda network releases another videotaped message. In Florida, five more employees of American Media have tested positive for exposure to anthrax. None of them shows any symptoms as yet. And in New York, authorities have traced the anthrax exposure of an NBC News employee to a letter postmarked in Trenton, New Jersey on September 18.
By the way, I spoke with Tom Brokaw late this afternoon. That employee, his assistant, is doing well, as is he.
We begin our program tonight by going to Dohar, Qatar. Standing by is Muntaha Ramahi, she is anchor for Al-Jazeera television. That's now the famed network serving a lot of the United Arab Republic (sic). They got another tape today. Tell me, Ms. Ramahi, how was this taped delivered to you?
MUNTAHA RAMAHI, AL-JAZEERA (through translator): Really, I don't know exactly how this tape has reached us, and I don't know how the previous tapes have reached us, but in the end, all of what reaches us by Al-Jazeera we broadcast live, and it's available for everyone to see.
KING: You do no editing, whatever you receive, you put on the air? RAMAHI (through translator): This is what I know, and everything that reaches us from whatever party regarding this crisis we broadcast on air live.
KING: And in this one, the spokesman denounces the United States attacks as vicious, accuses the United States of intentionally bombing an Afghan village, accuses George W. Bush, his father, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Ariel Sharon of crimes against the Muslims, voiced anger against the leadership. What did you as an anchorwoman, what did you make of all of this?
RAMAHI (through translator): Really, what would harm as media if, you know, some anger is suppressed against the U.S. or any other party for that matter. It's a point of view. We know different points of view are being expressed, and we know what the United States thinks of Taliban being another party to this process.
It does not necessarily mean that we in Al-Jazeera or in any other part of the Arab world that we adopt any point of view. But in the end, what we have to do as part of the media service to people is to be objective and truthful and broadcast anything that reaches us, no matter how it reaches us.
KING: How, by the way, is your network able to cover the bombings and goings-on in Afghanistan?
RAMAHI (through translator): Yes, we have covered the bombings in Afghanistan, and you may have followed with us via the coverage of Al-Jazeera what happened in Kabul, our report that I see (UNINTELLIGIBLE) broadcast live what has happened.
The latest was the latest pictures of the civilians who were affected by the bombing, most of them were children and women. It was strange that there was no men in these pictures. And also, the missile that the U.S. has talked about which said it hit -- it missed a target and hit the civilian areas, and we have recorded the effects of that missed bombing.
KING: By the way, are many refugees coming into Pakistan now?
RAMAHI (through translator): Yes, it seems to be. This is what our reporter is reporting back to us from Quetta and Peshawar and Islamabad, that there are large numbers of refugees leaving Afghanistan, but what is strange is everyone is leaving Afghanistan is the ones who have the means to do so -- means of transportation, that is, to allow them to get to Pakistan. But in the end, the ones who are in Afghanistan now, they who can't leave the country have no way of sheltering from the bombing, except of course making it to Pakistan.
KING: Thank you so much, Mrs. Ramahi. We'll be calling upon you again. That was Muntaha Ramahi at Dohar, Qatar, she is the anchor for Al-Jazeera television.
Let's meet our panel now. Joining us from Ramallah in the West Bank is Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and often a frequent guest on this show. We haven't seen her in some time, good to welcome her back.
In Lahore, Pakistan is Imran Khan, chairman of the Movement for Justice Party. By the way, if you're a sports fan, you'll remember him. He's known as the Lyon of Lahore, one of the legendary cricket players of all time, captain of his team.
And we will not identify her location or show her face. Tahmeena Faryal is with us, this is a return visit for her. She is a member of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, and because of concerns about her personal safety Tahmeena has asked that we shield her face and not tell you where she is.
Our subject with this panel tonight would deal with Islam, the Muslim faith and why there is such hatred in that faith for the United States and the West. You've seen covers recently in magazines, in "TIME" and "Newsweek," trying to educate the Western world about this faith. There you see "Facing the Fury," "Why Do They Hate Us?" The headline in "Newsweek," "Facing the Fury" in "TIME."
We will discuss that at great length with the panel, but we are going to take a break, and when we come back we will talk first with Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and then our panel for the rest of the show and your phone calls. We will be right back with his royal highness right after this.
KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE a return visit, with His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan. He is the brother of the late King Hussein of Jordan, moderator of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, president of the Club of Rome, a nonprofit, nongovernmental global think tank, and chairman of the Arab Thought Forum. The prince has been with us before, and your royal highness, we thank you for joining us.
What is your assessment right now of this current situation?
PRINCE EL HASSAN BIN TALAL, WORLD CONFERENCE ON RELIGION & PEACE: The events of the 11th of September have warned us all, and I personally believe that the attack was on our shared civilization. The bombing continues, and there are great fears that innocent civilians might be hurt, and I just want to say that this whole concern that President Bush expressed about (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Muslim countries should be put in perspective.
I think it is grief for what has happened. We have lost many friends in New York, that is at the top of people's minds.
But I would say the media have a responsibility in possibly moderating their continuous references to attacks against America. I think it's an attack against our common civilization, and in that sense I do hope that we don't go from bad to worse in stereotyping Muslims everywhere.
KING: And that's what we're going to try to do here tonight.
Your royal highness, let's get into some basics: What's the meaning of the word -- what does "Islam" mean?
BIN TALAL: Submission to the word of God, the one God. And I would like to add to that, respect for life, respect for human dignity; and including of course, in the context of the respect for people's right to food. In fact the injunction is, the Almighty fed them and then protected them from fear. I think that the concept of Islam is the concept of the middle path, and it is the successor religion to the two Abrahamic faiths in which we share a community, Judaism and Christianity.
KING: Now, those two religions, Christianity especially, has various sects. Christianity has Protestantism and Catholicism, and various forms of Protestant -- are their sects in your faith?
BIN TALAL: There are four main schools of orthodox Islam, stretching from Morocco to Indonesia. And then there are two schools Shia Islam, principally in Iran and in Iraq.
And I just want to say that what has happened with the bin Laden phenomenon is that you have a cult or a fringe group preaching violence. And I think that it's important to bear in mind that religion does not know an ethnicity or a nationalism. You don't talk in Northern Ireland of Catholic terror or Protestant terror.
And I think that what is obvious to us is that the absence of a formal conversation between the main schools of Islam has meant it's very difficult to take a clear position on the international debate on what to do next. I would like to see a new international -- I'd like to see a new international humanitarian order coming out of this. It's crisis and opportunity, and I think there's an opportunity to do good.
KING: All right. Is there anyone, anything in the Koran that would back up what bin Laden stands for -- the concept of jihad, a holy war? Does that exit in your Bible?
BIN TALAL: Larry, let me make it very clear that jihad is two concepts: struggle with one's self and struggle for the cause of Islam. But when the oman (ph) has not defined its priorities clearly, the concept of jihad certainly is not applicable because we are not prepared for jihad.
Secondly, I want to make it also clear that Islam, as in every faith, does not condone -- the moral code says no, no, no to the killing of innocent civilian lives. So this is not a manifestation of jihad. This is more of manifestation of ilhad (ph), which is terror.
But what I'm worried about is the manifestation of rihab (ph), which is the phobia directed against Islam. There might by a similar phobia directed against Semitism -- Semiticophobia (sic), xenophobia and, as Walter Zezulu (ph) said to me in South Africa the other day, it's time that we all started pulling together, working for something rather than against something; not only working against terror, but working for the civilization that we share. Our common humanity is at stake. KING: Like Christianity and Judaism, do you believe that God gives free will for man to do as he wishes and then to be judged later?
BIN TALAL: The judgment is God's. I was harangued by Islamic extremists shortly after signing the peace treaty with Israel, and they said to me one after the other, you will be judged on the day of judgment; like your friend, you will burn in hell, like your friend Yitzhak Rabin. And I said to them, the day of judgment is about us all. It is not about me and Yitzhak Rabin. So it is not for me to judge others. That is falling into the trap of the bin Ladens, who judge us as being good or bad Muslims.
But I think what is important, and I have with me here a wonderful text Larry, if I may read from it, it symbolizes the spirit of Islam. It goes back to Spain in the 14th century: "My heart is open to all the winds. It is a pasture for gazelles and a home for Christian monks, a temple for idols, the black stone of the Mecca pilgrim, the table for the Torah and the book of the Koran. Mine is the religion of love. Wherever God's caravans' turn the religion of love shall be my religion and my faith."
This was in the age of -- a century when Christians persecuted Jews and Muslims, but that did not sour our faith or turn us in hatred towards others.
KING: God willing, everyone should read that. I thank you so much your royal highness. Thanks so much; we'll call on you again, and we really appreciate you being with us.
BIN TALAL: Thank you, Larry. I look forward to joining with you again.
KING: His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan, the brother of the late King Hussein.
We'll be right back.
KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE -- joining our panel from Jabal-Saraj, Afghanistan is Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, acting foreign minister of the United Front for the Anti-Taliban Alliance in Northern Afghanistan.
And the panel again: in Ramallah on the West Bank is Hanan Ashrawi. In Lahore, Pakistan is Imran Khan. And at a location that we're not telling you for security reasons is Tahmeena Faryal of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
Our overall subject is Islam, and why Islam hates -- or a lot of Islam hates the United States.
Dr. Abdullah, I'll start with you. Why is there so much hatred toward the West? DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, ANTI-TALIBAN OFFICIAL: It has nothing to do with Islam. What you are talking about is terrorism or a cult led by Osama bin Laden and its followers. This has nothing to do with Islam; this is terrorism.
The human face of Islam, the tolerance, the coexistence in Islam is being misinterpreted to a large extent and abused and misused by a group of cults all over the world. To start with Osama bin Laden, they have terrorized the Afghan nation to begin with. It is not the hatred against the United States or the West, it is the hatred against humanity, as I mentioned before. And the face of Islam has been distorted to a large extent.
KING: Hanan Ashrawi, what are your thoughts on this feeling of anger that we see so much of?
HANAN ASHRAWI, PALESTINIAN COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, I think it is time that one really addresses the issue, and I'm glad you ask the question. It is not hatred, and it is not something existential and so much -- or a mood. It is a question of a combination of factors that are very complex.
Let me say, Larry, that at the beginning of the century the U.S. was looked upon as an ex-colony, as a people, a nation that had struggled and liberated itself from the colonizer, and therefore it was looked upon as the land of the free and the home of the brave, and as the country that opened its arms for people who were oppressed and so on, and they took this very seriously, particularly since the U.S. was never a colonizer in our part of the world, as opposed to Europe, that was looked upon with tremendous suspicion.
And so, there was tremendous good will toward the U.S. Unfortunately I think it's after the middle of the century, of the 20th century, that American policy began to be seen as being detrimental to national interests, even detrimental to human rights, to the development of democracy in its struggle and its fight against the communism, particularly during the Cold War. The U.S. was perceived to be encouraging extremism on the one hand, adopting other standards on the other.
But when it comes to major emotive causes, the Palestinian cause was at the heart of this affection with the U.S. And the fact that the U.S. supported Israel blindly, and Israel in many ways carried out its policies of occupation and brutality with American support, with American weapons and American blessings. And so...
KING: And so, your view is that it was the attitude toward the Middle East that started the change in a lot of the Muslim world toward the West.
ASHRAWI: In many causes. I mean, the Palestinian question is one, but there were geopolitical reasons, and of course issues of double standards and issues of selectivity of international law. And at the same time, knowing that the U.S. had many close friends and allies among the leaders of the region, that felt that they were being let down and at the same time there was increased radicalization among the public.
KING: Imran Khan in Pakistan, what's your view of this sordid affair with people hating people?
IMRAN KHAN, JUSTICE PARTY OF PAKISTAN: Well, let's first make a distinction. I mean, I don't think there's any problem with the people of United States. The problem is with the United States' foreign policy. And mainly, as Hanan Ashrawi has said, that it's to do with the Middle East. There's a feeling that the policies biased against the Palestinians in favor of Israel, and Israel seems to get away with...
KING: I'm sorry, we lost the satellite there. We will pick it back up. Tahmeena, from the standpoint we know how you've been oppressed in Afghanistan. Why do you think there's so much antipathy toward the West?
TAHMEENA FARYAL, RAWA: The point I want to make clear is the difference between our people's Islam and fundamentalist Islam, and that is -- this difference is not only in Afghanistan, but all over Muslim countries.
Unfortunately, the fundamentalists in Afghanistan who took the power in 1992, named Jihadis and then the Taliban, misused Islam as a tool in order to implement their own wishes and objectives on the people, as they could not implement it under any other name. And there always has been a very big difference between the fate of our people and the Islam. The people of Afghanistan condemn the fundamentalists, the Jihadi and the Taliban fundamentalists for the crimes that they committed under the name of Islam, and they do believe that it has nothing do with the Islam of our people.
And our organization, RAWA, had warned time and again that if fundamentalists are supported by different countries, it is going to be a danger, not only to Afghanistan, to the region, but to the whole country that we have witnessed unfortunately, the 11th of September incident.
KING: I want to clear up something with Imran and then Hanan. Imran, you're not saying that because of the policy toward the Middle East and specifically toward the Palestinians that it was OK to hit the World Trade Center? I'm sorry, we lost him. Hanan, are you saying that, that the violence of September 11 -- you're not supporting that kind of action, are you?
ASHRAWI: No, not at all. By no stretch of the imagination, by any means, no. You see, people went through shock, through horror, through pain, through anger, and now and even revenge, but now they're trying to understand, and this to me is very positive, to try to understand why. And trying to understand is not, as your friend Rudy Giuliani said, is unacceptable, no, and it is not condoning, justifying or rationalizing the horror that happened on September 11.
That's an act of absolute and utmost criminality and terrorism, and therefore there's no way in which anybody can justify it or accept it or in any way condone it. So let's make that very clear. What we are trying to do is help the Americans and help cultures, civilizations, religions understand each other and understand the inclusivety of our human condition.
And therefore, I think it's important that one does not confuse between terrorism on the one hand or political agendas on the other. One must not confuse acts that are carried out by extremists, by fundamentalists, as Tahmeena said -- and I would like to congratulate them on tremendous work on the behalf of Afghani women, by the way -- and one must not confuse that with our position against any kind of targeting civilians.
KING: Dr. Abdullah -- hold it, we will come back to you.
ASHRAWI: That doesn't mean there's no context.
KING: I got you. Dr. Abdullah, there's also anger over bases in Saudi Arabia that the United States has, anger over the sanctions against Iraq. Aren't those other factors too?
ABDULLAH: Those might be factors, but I would say that the fact of terrorism or criminal act against civilian population cannot be justified by any reason. This is total criminality, as it was put by Hanan Ashrawi. And there might be resentment and desperations about some of the policies of the United States among the Muslim nations as a whole, that's true, but then this shouldn't lead to the acts such as what happened in the United States or something similar to it.
KING: And Dr. Abdullah, is there any doubt in your mind that it was bin Laden that was responsible for that?
ABDULLAH: Yes, of course, Osama bin Laden was responsible for that, and Osama bin Laden was not only responsible for that. He was also responsible for assassinating our leader, Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, which had fought for liberation of Afghanistan during the Soviet Union, the occupation by the Soviet Union, and later on for the stability and peace in his own country.
And as I mentioned at the beginning, the Afghan nation as a whole, men and women who are terrorized by Osama and Taliban, which are working together for a common agenda.
KING: So you're saying that Osama bin Laden is not the Muslim faith?
ABDULLAH: Of course, this doesn't represent any aspect of Islam which is, as I mentioned, a human, a faith for human beings and tolerance to existence (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: OK. Let me get a break, and we will come back. We will try to make contact again with Imran Khan in Lahore, Pakistan. We have had a satellite problem there. And we will also be including your phone calls.
As we go to break, here's an example of some feelings about the West in Pakistan. Watch.
KING: We are back with this live edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND for this Saturday night. Tomorrow night, another live edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND with former ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former United States Senator George Mitchell, with George Will of...
KING: ... Senators Lugar, Domenici, Shelby and others.
We have got our panel assembled, we will be going to your phone calls. Tahmeena, will you tell us -- we are going to show some scenes from "Beneath the Veil," that horrific documentary done about the conditions that women face in Afghanistan. Does -- what kind of feelings did this leave these women with? Obviously, there's feelings anti-Taliban. Do any of these feelings express beyond that? Do they go to the West as well?
FARYAL: RAWA, as the only representative of women in Afghanistan, is proud to be the voice of women in Afghanistan and raise their voice through whatever way it can, through the Web site, through our publications, through our other activities. And the feeling of the women in Afghanistan is not just the anger. It's not that they are insulted every day, but women in Afghanistan have to deal every day with a great deal of death, and this feeling is not only toward the Taliban.
I should make it clear that it has started -- oppression and suppression in Afghanistan has started when the fundamentalists in 1992 took the power that some of them are now in the Northern Alliance. And I want to make -- I want to ask Dr. Abdullah that what the groups in the Northern Alliance that under the name of Islam when they had the power from '92 to '96, especially toward women, there were many cases of rape, there were many cases of forced marriages, of suicide, besides the destruction of our country and the killing of innocent people of Afghanistan.
KING: Dr. Abdullah, what about that? That was before the Taliban?
ABDULLAH: Yes, of course, I have nothing to do with the accusations posed toward us during that period, but I should say about that period between '92 to '96 -- first of all, there was a coalition of different parties in power, and secondly the security situation in Kabul was such that Kabul was under blockade by a group supported by Pakistan, a fanatic which Osama's friends were working with him. That group has started rocketing the city and putting the city under siege, so it was not a perfect situation for men and women in Kabul, especially at that time.
But of course, the policy of government was the respect for human rights and women's rights as a whole. Nevertheless, 60 percent of civil servants in Kabul during that period were women, and their rights were respected. Of course, I do not deny if there were individual abuses.
KING: Hanan, before we take some phone calls, do you think the continued bombing of Afghanistan and, say, a mistake like happened today with the killing of innocents will increase the anger toward the West in other Muslim areas?
ASHRAWI: I wouldn't say toward the West, yeah. And I think it's not just a question of religions. I really don't think it's a religious issue or a clash of civilizations. I think there are very clear political issues.
Now, there is a war being conducted, and many people are worried about the Afghani civilian population. Afghanistan is a devastated country. The people have been multiply oppressed by 20 years of civil war, by the Taliban regime which is certainly not the model that everybody would want. And yet, now they are also being bombed and shelled from the sky. So there is a fear, and a tremendous human sympathy for the Afghani people -- not for the Taliban and not for al Qaeda or for bin Laden.
There is a feeling that something has to be done about the Afghani people who themselves were also the playing ground for warring parties, particularly during the Cold War, whether it was the Soviet Union or the U.S., and who were used as surrogate fighters.
And therefore, we need to ensure that the human condition is dealt with and there are no innocent civilians who are being victimized now. But at the same time, there has to be a reconstruction of Afghanistan, as well as forging a new strategy by the U.S. within the region.
KING: I believe we have Imran Khan back now from Lahore, Pakistan. We're sorry, we have kind of a flimsy satellite operating there. Do you, Imran -- I asked Hanan this and then we were cut off from you -- do you as well, despite political differences, condemn the acts of September 11?
KHAN: Of course, Larry. Anyone who watched those events, I mean anyone who has any human feelings within them has to condemn them. There was great feeling all over Pakistan, especially when you saw those people jumping out of those windows, it was probably the worst thing to see, and watching it live too.
But the thing is, the bombing of Afghanistan's civilians is causing tremendous concern in this part of the world. There have been close links with those people for centuries, and the fear that the people of Afghanistan will again suffer, you know, that's causing great concern here and resentment against the United States.
KING: But there's nothing in your bible, in what you believe, that condones suicide killings, right?
KHAN: Absolutely not. I mean, the Koran is very clear, that you cannot hurt civilians or people who have nothing to do with -- and war is only a defensive war. You cannot have an offensive war and there can be no war against civilians. KING: All right, very clearly said. San Diego, California, we will include some phone calls. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. I'm so excited to get through. I watch your program often, and thank you for the opportunity.
KING: Thank you. What's the question?
CALLER: I wanted to ask quickly, I think this is about hate and I think Osama bin Laden and Hitler and Timothy McVeigh dress it up in religion, politics -- so I don't think this is about Islam or Muslim at all, and I see it a lot as a powerlessness that people have in that part of the country, because they don't really have freedom of thought. And what I'm wondering is, what are, like prince of Jordan and other panel members think that the Arab Middle Eastern governments are doing specifically to educate the people there against terrorism and to help Afghanistan?
KING: We will start with Tahmeena. What are we doing about educating against hate? And it's easy to understand why your people, the women under the Taliban could hate, but what do you about educating?
FARYAL: I think that the most important point, as I mentioned before, is to differentiate between the Islam of our people and the fundamentalists, to expose the fundamentalism and their nature. The nature of fundamentalism is very misogynist, anti-democracy, anti- civilization, always dependent on foreign countries and terrorists, and I think that is the most important message right now to the world to the countries who still might support the fundamentalists that again, I would like to mention that we have some of them right now in the Northern Alliance, not only the Taliban who are still supported.
This is going to be another danger. We think that if there is a combat against terrorism by the U.S. government or British or many other countries, first of all they should -- there should be a stoppage of financial, military, diplomatic and political support to all the fundamentalists in Afghanistan, as well as in all other countries.
KING: You've got to be taught to hate, Hanan, is that correct? And the only way to stop it is to not teach it?
ASHRAWI: Not only that. I don't think people are born hating each other, and I don't think hate is the only motive. I think there are a variety of motivations.
But let me say the real antidote to feelings of powerlessness that your caller asked and a sense of desperation and of course extremism and absolutism and sort of invoking the name of God and doing extreme things and in a sense hijacking a perfectly inclusive and tolerant religion like Islamic culture in which I live -- I believe that the real antidote is genuine democracy, respect for human rights, the transition to an inclusive and tolerant culture.
And this happens gradually, yes, but we don't have much time. I think we should be involved in institution-building, yes.
KING: Let me get a break and we will come back. We have got lots more time and lots more phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: Let's go back some calls. Sturgis, Michigan, hello.
CALLER: Hello. I would like to know what the moderate Muslims in the Middle East are doing to help with the human rights issues in Afghanistan, most particularly as how it concerns the women.
KING: Hanan, you want to take that?
ASHRAWI: Yes. Well, Afghanistan has been closed to most of our organizations, whether human rights organizations or citizens rights and civil rights. But there is a sort of global movement, particularly by women, in support of the Afghan women. We have tried -- we have signed petitions, we have tried to make available information on the Afghan women.
But at the same time, there was very little if any interaction between us or global human rights organizations and between Afghanistan, because I think the Taliban had a stranglehold on the country. But now I think the time has come, actually, to be more outspoken and more intrusive.
KING: Imran, what do you think? Imran?
KHAN: Well, I feel that it's a question of education. It's a question of modernization. And Afghanistan has completely missed that phase. It's been in a state of war for 20 years. The Soviet invasion destroyed all the fabric of the society. And it's not surprising that they are really living in the Middle Ages, or even before that.
KING: Tahmeena, it is hard to have hope, is it not?
FARYAL: It is not hard to have hope, although the women in Afghanistan -- the majority of the female population in Afghanistan are very hopeless because they find themselves very helpless. They do not see any bright future ahead of themselves. But they also see that there are organizations like RAWA which give them hope. And the women in RAWA would never lose their hope, and we are hopeful for a free and democratic government in Afghanistan where women's rights could be guaranteed.
KING: Lantana -- I'm sorry -- Lantana, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: I want to ask the whole panel: Why is the holiest site in Islam barred to all non-believers? It's the only religion which bars all other religions from a particular site, which is Mecca. Bin Laden just takes this to the next level by wanting to bar all non- believers from the entire region.
KING: Dr. Abdullah, do you know the answer?
ABDULLAH: It is more a general question. And when it gets specific about barring the faith -- the followers of other faiths from Mecca it is a principle in Islam. And it is not discrimination at any level against the followers of other faiths.
So once again I return back to the main issue, which is Islam and terrorism. There is no place for terrorism. There is no place for discriminating against innocent people at any -- for any reason, or acts of -- criminal acts like what happened in the United States against civilians.
So this has nothing to do with the principles or the details of Islamic thoughts...
KING: Hanan, why is no one -- other religions not allowed?
ASHRAWI: I think because it's a sacred place for Islam. And I can't really tell you, but I know that Islam is the only religion that does not deny other religions. That's why I call it the most inclusive religion, because it accepts -- it builds on and accepts Judaism and Christianity, and therefore includes them and not seen them as threats to Islam, while other religions, whether Christianity or Judaism in many ways, you know, negate each other and refuse to deal with each other in terms of inclusion within the paradigm of religion.
KING: Cleveland, hello.
ASHRAWI: But I think it's just a question of a holy site being sacred.
KING: Cleveland, hello.
CALLER: Hello. My question is: has Al Jazeera TV broadcast any of those horrific movies of the torment of women in Afghanistan to the Muslim world like they do Osama bin Laden -- his speech, they broadcast every word.
KING: Good question.
Tahmeena, do they? Does that network televise the plight of the women?
FARYAL: We have not seen any footage from the plight of women broadcasted by that network, but I think that the caller may talk about some of the footages of women -- the women execution or the women being lashed by the Taliban, which was shown by CNN and "Beneath the Veil." And those footages are taken by RAWA members inside Afghanistan...
KING: And they're not shown on the Al Jazeera network?
FARYAL: No, we haven't seen anything yet. KING: All right, let me get a break, and we'll come back with more of our panel, a few more phone calls as well. This is Larry King -- a live edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND. Don't go away.
KING: Dr. Abdullah, are you optimistic that we might see an end to terrorism and hatred? Is that too wishful?
ABDULLAH: I am optimistic. I am optimistic, because first of all, if you're talking about one billion Muslim people all over the world, there is no sympathy for the acts -- for the criminal acts which were conducted there in the United States or elsewhere in the world. There is no sympathy for that.
And also, I believe that with working together, with the believers in all faiths, and also some look toward the situation, deeper look toward the situation, one could get the things changed. If Muslims as a whole are blamed or labeled for the acts committed by a few bunches of cults and terrorist groups, then the danger is there, then the whole Muslim nation will have to react in that case.
That has to be avoided. Other than that, I am optimistic that with working together we can put an end to this menace and we can eradicate this menace from the face of the world.
KING: Hanan, who has gone through so much, seen so much on both sides, are you optimistic at all that we will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) live in peace?
ASHRAWI: Well, I am extremely concerned, Larry. I think the situation is very difficult and very precarious and it depends on what we do. Nothing is going to happen by default. We have to act and we have to work together within a common vision. We have to solve long- standing conflicts. We have to solve issues of grievances and injustices and we have to work on genuine empowerment. There are global issues like poverty, illiteracy, degradation of the environment and some that are global enemies, but there are still conflicts that are festering, that are creating a sense of hopelessness and despair.
In our case, it's a question of the occupation that has to end. I mean, you know, over three and a half decades of brutal and cruel occupation that has led to so much hostility and fear and hatred. This has to be solved. So there should be a concerted effort, a commitment to end these conflicts, and at the same time to generate a new sense of hope through intervention that is constructive and positive.
KING: Before I ask Tahmeena about her optimism, let me get in one more call. Raleigh, North Carolina. Hello.
CALLER: Yeah, hi. Why doesn't somebody from -- throw the al Qaeda network out of Islam? I believe there was an organization by name of Al-Modias (ph), who were thrown completely out of Islam, which were part of Pakistan.
KING: Can you do that, do you know, Dr. Abdullah? Can you throw them out of Islam?
ABDULLAH: I didn't get the question right. If you could just explain to me.
KING: Can you throw them out of their faith? In some religions, people can be excommunicated. Can you throw them out of their religion, out of the Muslim faith?
ABDULLAH: I think the acts which they have committed, it's not limited, as I mentioned, against the followers of other faiths or the believers of other religions.
KING: But can you throw them out of your faith?
ABDULLAH: ... in more cruel manner.
KING: Hanan, do you know if you can throw them out?
ASHRAWI: No, I don't think there is.
KING: You can't? Hanan, can you?
ASHRAWI: I don't think there is such a thing as excommunication in Islam.
KING: All right. I want to ask Tahmeena. All right, there is none probably.
I want to ask Tahmeena if she is optimistic about the plight of the women of Afghanistan.
FARYAL: Yes, we can be optimistic only when we can make sure that there is no support to the fundamentalists in Afghanistan. Not only to the Taliban, but also to the Northern Alliance, which are supported by Iran, by Russia and India and other governments.
KING: All right. I thank you, we've run out of time...
FARYAL: There should be an end to the fundamentalism in Afghanistan.
KING: We thank all of our panelist. We are sorry, Imran Khan, that that satellite went down again.
We talked a lot about divisions and differences tonight. Our closing images -- we do this every night, close in a different way -- will focus on some of humanity's common ground and some hope. We want to thank U2 for giving us permission to use their song, "One."
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