Amanpour, the president of Iran walked away from an interview over a headscarf dispute

Amanpour, the president of Iran walked away from an interview over a headscarf dispute

CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi walked away from an interview in New York City on Wednesday after a controversy over Amanpour wearing a headscarf.

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Amanpour said she intended to speak to Raisi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to ask him about the ongoing protests in Iran.

“Protests are sweeping Iran & women are burning their hijabs after the death of Mahsa Amini last week, after she was arrested by the ‘morality police’. Human rights groups say at least 8 were killed. Last night, I planned to ask President Raisi about all this and more,” Amanpour wrote.

The interview, the CNN anchor said, was the first by an Iranian president on US soil. But, 40 minutes after the interview began, Raisi’s aide came over to Amanpour and said that the president “was praising [she] wear a skull” because they were the holy months of Muharraim and Safar.

“I politely declined. We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves. I pointed out that no previous president of Iran was needed when I interviewed them outside of Iran,” she said.

“The assistant made it clear that the interview would not take place if I did not wear a scarf. He said it was ‘a matter of respect’ and referred to ‘the situation in Iran’ – referring to the protests that were sweeping the country,” she continued.

Protests are underway across the country over a woman, Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after being arrested in Tehran. According to NPR, Amini was arrested by Iran’s “morality police,” who enforce head covering rules in public.

Since then, images and videos have spread across the media of women flashing hijabs and cutting their hair to incessant applause.

At least eight people have died in the protests so far, according to Reuters.

Amanpour said she could not agree with this “unprecedented and unexpected situation.”

“And so we walked away,” she said. “The interview didn’t happen. As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, it was a great time to speak with President Raisi.”

Amanpour later told the host of CNN’s “New Day” that the dispute was “very upsetting.”

“We had our first exclusive here in New York. He had already done an interview in Iran with ’60 Minutes’ where the scarf was also a matter of concern. But then, because it’s a habit, someone always wears the scarf when there’s someone, that’s just it, otherwise you couldn’t work as journalists,” she said.

“No president of Iran has ever asked me, and I’ve interviewed every one of them since 1995, inside or outside of Iran – I’ve never been asked to wear a scarf.”

Updated at 10:57 am

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