Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi pulled out of a long-scheduled interview with CNN’s lead international anchor Christiane Amanpour at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, after she refused a last-minute request to wear a headscarf.
About 40 minutes after the scheduled interview with a delayed chief, an aide told Amanpour that the chief had suggested she wear a headscarf. Amanpour said she “politely declined”.
Amanpour, who grew up in the Iranian capital Tehran and speaks fluent Farsi, said she wears a headscarf while covering in Iran to comply with local laws and customs, “otherwise she will not be able to work as a journalist.” But she said she would not cover her head to interview an Iranian official outside a country where it was not required.
“Here in New York, or anywhere else outside of Iran, no Iranian president has ever asked me — and I’ve interviewed every one of them since 1995 — inside or outside Iran, and I’ve never been asked to wear a headscarf,” she said on New Day. on CNN on Thursday.
“I declined very politely on behalf of myself, CNN and female journalists everywhere because it is not a requirement.”
Iranian law requires all women to wear a headscarf and loose-fitting clothes in public. The rule has been in place in Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and it is mandatory for every woman in the country – including tourists, visiting political figures and journalists.
Amanpour said a key aide made it clear that the interview – which would have been the Iranian president’s first on US soil – would not happen if she did not wear a headscarf. He pointed out that it is a “matter of respect” for being the holy month of Muharram and Safar, and referred to “the situation in Iran,” referring to the protests sweeping the country.
Anti-government protests erupted across Iran last week over the death in custody of 22-year-old Mohsa Amini, after Iran’s morality police arrested her for violating the headscarf law.
Thousands took to the streets and some women cut their hair and burned their headscarves to protest the law. Human rights groups reported the killing of at least eight people in the demonstrations, which were met with severe repression by the authorities, according to eyewitnesses and videos circulated on social media.
The demonstrations appear to be the biggest challenge to the rule of the Islamic Republic, which has become tougher since the election of Raisi’s hardline government last year. After eight years of Hassan Rouhani’s moderate administration, Iran has elected Raisi, the head of an ultra-conservative judiciary whose views align with that of the country’s powerful clerics and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In Iran, the head covering is a powerful symbol of a set of personal rules imposed by the country’s clergy, which govern what people can wear, watch and do. Over the past decade, protests have erupted as many Iranians have grown increasingly dissatisfied with those restrictions.
Amini’s death sparked a long-running outcry over restrictions on personal liberties. Surveys and reports in recent years have shown that an increasing number of Iranians do not believe that headscarves or head coverings should be mandatory.
Iranian officials claimed Amini died after suffering a “heart attack” and went into a coma, but her family said she did not suffer from heart disease, according to Extension News, a pro-reform Iranian media outlet. Skepticism about the account of those responsible for her death has also fueled public anger.
Television footage published by Iranian state media showed Mahsa Amini falling into a “re-education” center where the morality police took her to receive “instructions” about her clothes.
Amanpour had planned to investigate Amini’s death and protests, as well as the nuclear deal and Iran’s support for Russia in Ukraine, but said she had to leave.
“With protests continuing in Iran and people being killed, it could have been an important moment to speak with the main president,” she said in a statement. Twitter theme.