CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour said Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi demanded at the last minute that she wear a headscarf as a “matter of respect” during a planned interview Wednesday afternoon, prompting her to “decline politely ” on its “unprecedented and unexpected”. condition.”
Raisi then withdrew from the long-planned interview.
With anti-government protests taking to the streets of Iran following the death of a young woman in police custody, Amanpour hoped to press Raisi about the news in his first ever interview on American soil. The hardline Iranian leader was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
In one of the biggest demonstrations of defiance against the Islamic Republic in recent years, demonstrations have erupted following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested last weekend by Tehran’s “morality police” as they are called. She was detained on allegations that she violated an Iranian law that forced women to wear headscarves in public. Iranian officials claimed the 22-year-old woman died of a “heart attack”.
Amanpour, who was raised in Tehran and speaks Farsi, told CNN New Day on Thursday morning that she always adhered to wearing headscarves and other local customs while reporting in Iran, adding that “you couldn’t work as a journalist” otherwise.
Noticing that Raisi was already done recent interview with CBS News’ 60 Minutes where “the headscarf was a concern,” Amanpour added that no other Iranian president—”inside or outside Iran”—had insisted that she cover her head during an interview.
The veteran journalist said the interview had been planned for weeks and they had spent hours setting up the lights and cameras but with “no sign” of Raisi.
“Forty minutes after the interview was about to start, an assistant came over,” she tweeted on Thursday morning. “The president, he said, was recommending me to wear a scarf, because it is the holy months of Muharram and Safar.”
on her: “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 had been required when I interviewed them outside of Iran.”
Amanpour explained that the aide said the interview wouldn’t take place if she didn’t wear a headscarf, telling her it was “disrespectful” while referring to the “situation in Iran” – a clear reference to the widespread protests.
“Again, I said that I could not agree to this unprecedented and unexpected condition,” she said. “And so we walked away. The interview did not take place. As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, it was a great time to speak with President Raisi.”
Asked for Da Newy whether she accepted this as Raisi finding an excuse to avoid discussing the protests at home, Amanpour said she “cannot judge that” because the interview was still on the schedule before the withdrawal suddenly.
“I think if I could guess how I’ll read it, I think he didn’t want to be seen with a woman without a headscarf,” she concluded. “Either because he calls it a religious month, or because people would say how he is sitting with a foreign journalist who is not wearing a headscarf but inside Iran they are fighting young women who are not wearing their head scarves. “
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