Iranian leader shuns interview with Christiane Amanpour because of refusal to wear headscarves | Ebrahim Raisic

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has canceled an interview in New York with veteran CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour after she refused to wear a headscarf at his request.

In a series of tweets, CNN’s chief international anchor said she was scheduled to meet Raisi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, and planned to ask him about various topics, including the outbreak of protests in Iran after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was arrested and beaten by “morality police” for violating the headscarf laws.

“This would be President Raisi’s first-ever interview on US soil during his visit to New York for UNGA. After weeks of planning and eight hours of setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras, we were ready. But no sign of President Raisi,” Amanpour tweeted on Thursday.

Forty minutes after the interview was due to begin, an aide approached Amanpour and told her that Raisi “suggested [she] wear a headscarf as it is the holy months of Muharram and Safar,” she wrote.

Amanpour said she declined the request, explaining that “we are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves”. She added that no other Iranian president has required her to wear a headscarf when interviewing them outside of Iran.

Christiane Amanpour: 'We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves.'
Christiane Amanpour: ‘We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves.’ Photo: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

“The assistant made it clear that the interview would not take place if I did not wear a headscarf. He said it was “a matter of respect” and referred to “the situation in Iran” — referring to the protests that swept the country,” Amanpour said.

“Again, I said I could not agree to this unprecedented and unexpected situation.”

As a result, Amanpour and her team walked out and the interview did not take place. A photo Amanpour posted at the end of her tweets showed her in a white suit sitting on an empty chair as she waited for the Iranian president, her hair uncovered.

And so we walked away. The interview did not go through. As the protests in Iran continue 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 British-Iranian journalist’s refusal to wear a headscarf has been met with high praise online.

“Good for @amanpour. The days of Iranian officials requiring female reporters and officials to wear the hejab to get interviews and meetings should be over. Forced hejab reflects an outdated and intolerant ideology, not a culture.” tweeted Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian-American policy analyst at Carnegie Endowment, a DC-based think tank.

NPR radio host Esther Ciammachilli retweeted Amanpour’s photo, to writeWhat they mean when they say, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ The integrity of Christiane Amanpour is completely intact.”

Bahman Kalbasi, the New York and UN correspondent for BBC’s Persian Service echoed similar sentiments, tweet: “Raisi does not show up for CNN interview after Christiane Amanpour refuses to put on the regime’s hijab. The president of the Iranian regime seems to think he can also impose the hijab in NYC. #MahsaAmini.”

Raisi was repeatedly asked about Amini’s death during a briefing with reporters on Thursday morning, who initially tried to narrow down Iranian officials to the subject of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear deal with the west.

Raisi echoed official claims that Amini had died of a heart attack or stroke while in custody and said similar deaths in custody had occurred in the US and UK.

At least three women who attended the briefing were not wearing headscarves.

At least 31 people have died in six days of protests since Amini’s death. Iranian women take to the streets and the internet to burn their headscarves and cut their hair.

“A law that violates human dignity is not an ordinary law,” said a female protester.

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