CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour claimed that she couldn’t interview Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi as his aide insisted that she wear a headscarf before Raisi.
Incidentally, the country is gripped with unrelenting protests over the death of a young woman, who was detained and allegedly tortured in custody by Iran’s morality police for wearing “unsuitable attire”.
Amanpour was set to interview Raisi in New York on Thursday, his first on US soil, as the leader was visiting the city for the ongoing United Nations General Assembly session. ” After weeks of planning and eight hours of setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras, we were ready. But no sign of President Raisi,” she said in a series of tweets.
Less than hour past the interview’s scheduled time, Raisi’s aide approached Amanpour with the President’s suggestion that the anchor wear a headscarf due to the ongoing holy months of Muharram and Sagar, a request she “politely declined”. Raisi’s aide, she claimed, said the interview would not happen if the condition was not fulfilled as it was “a matter of respect,” and referred to “the situation in Iran”, hinting at the ongoing protests over a woman’s death following her arrest by the morality police.
I politely declined. We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president has required this when I have interviewed them outside Iran. 4/7— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) September 22, 2022
And so we walked away. The interview didn’t happen. As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, it would have been an important moment to speak with President Raisi. 7/7 pic.twitter.com/kMFyQY99Zh— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) September 22, 2022
The interview with Raisi would have come a week after the morality police detained 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, saying she didn’t properly cover her hair with the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, which is mandatory for Iranian women. Amini collapsed at a police station and died three days later.
Amini’s death has prompted Iranians to take to the streets of Tehran and other parts of the country. Many Iranians, particularly the young, have come to see her death as part of the Islamic Republic’s heavy-handed policing of dissent and the morality police’s increasingly violent treatment of young women.
Police say that she died of a heart attack and deny that she was mistreated. The government released video footage purporting to show the moment she collapsed. Her family says she had no history of heart trouble, and her death in police custody has triggered daring displays of defiance from protesters, in the face of beatings and possible arrest.