ABC News' Christiane Amanpour: Not your ordinary Christmases

The international journalist offers insights into the worlds that filled her childhood and give her a unique perspective on the Middle East

Continued from page 2

But this was not the Iran that Amanpour grew up in. Hers was an Iran rich in thousands of years of history and culture and diversity.

“One of the things that I find phenomenal is that it was, in fact, an ancient Persian king, Cyrus the Great who defeated the Babylonians and enabled Jews to come back and to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem.” Indeed, that story is told in the Bible’s books of Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah.

“This is very important,” says Amanpour. “Today people forget. People don’t focus on that kind of stuff because so much of the division that separates us. The differences have dominated our consciousness.”

How did such a culturally diverse upbringing affect her as an adult? How would she describe her own personal faith as a result of such a childhood?

“Well you know,” she says, somewhat reservedly, “Without wanting to be too – as you know, faith is a private thing. However, just to say that I have grown up with these three great Abrahamic monotheistic faiths.

“The first-ever monotheist was Zoroaster from ancient Persia, so I have all of that in my blood and in my bones and I do practice and I am teaching my son the traditions of faith, Jewish and Christian, and because his father is Jewish and my mother is English and Catholic,

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I have also opened his eyes to the fact that there is such commonality and to respect religion and respect the tradition and to respect the values taught.”

Amanpour talks to Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass. Photo by Shawn Baldwin, ABC News

That’s been one of her goals for the ABC Primetime Special “Back to the Beginning,” scheduled to air on December 21 and 28. For the segments in Egypt and the Sinai desert, she took along12-year-old, Darius.

“I wanted to show people that it’s OK to visit these places even with your kids,” she says. “It’s part of the story, handing down these stories generation to generation. It was incredible to take my son with me and to show him what I do – and the incredible privilege I’ve had being able to travel the world.

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