Interview with Iranian President cut short after Christiane Amanpour refuses to wear headscarf
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi did not show up for his first-ever interview on US soil after CNN’s Christiane Amanpour “politely declined” his request that he wear a headscarf, the reporter said on Twitter thread Thursday.
“After weeks of planning and eight hours setting up the translation equipment, lighting and cameras, we were ready. But no sign of President Raisi,” Amanpour said. “40 minutes after the interview was supposed to start, a consultant came by. The President, he said, suggested that I wear a headscarf because it is the holy months of Muharram and Safar.”
While Amanpour has worn headscarves in the past for interviews in other countries such as Iran or Afghanistan, she noted that she would not wear headscarves in a country where it is not required. CBS News correspondent Lesley Stahl interviewed Raisi last week in custody for “60 minutes” before the death and the protests that followed. The interview took place in the Iranian capital, Tehran, and Stahl wore a hat.
“We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves,” the journalist wrote. “I pointed out that no previous Iranian president has requested this when I interviewed them outside of Iran.”
According to Amanpour, the aide who informed her of Raisi’s demand “alluded to the protests“Iran is currently on the wane after a woman – arrested by morality police for allegedly not fully covering her hair with her hijab – died in police custody.
“And so we walked away,” Amanpour tweeted. “The interview didn’t take place. As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, speaking to President Raisi would have been an important moment.”
Under Iranian law, women are required to adhere to a specific dress code based on the country’s interpretation of Sharia law. This includes donning a hijab to cover her hair and wearing loose-fitting clothing to hide her figure, the BBC reports.
Last week, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini from Kurdistan visited Tehran when she was arrested by the vice squad for breaking the headgear rule. She died while in custody.
Police said Amini died of health problems and suffered a heart attack. Amini’s family denies that she had any health problems and has critics and eyewitnesses claims that the woman was beaten in a police car before going into a coma.
Since the incident, protests have erupted across Iran in response to Amini’s death. Many women are public combustion their hijabs and cut their hair in solidarity with Amini. At least 17 people were killed in the protests and internet access was cut in several parts of the country.