Iranian president and CNN anchor walk away from interview over headscarf dispute

CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour sits alone at the interview room after Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi walked out. (Photo: @amanpour/Twitter)

CNN reporter Wednesday in New York City, Christiane Amanpour and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi left an interview due to a disagreement about Amanpour's headscarf.

Amanpour said in a series of tweets on Thursday morning that she planned to interview Raisi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to inquire about the current protests in Iran.

"Protests are sweeping Iran & women are burning their hijabs after the death last week of Mahsa Amini, following her arrest by the ‘morality police’. Human rights groups say at least 8 have been killed. Last night, I planned to ask President Raisi about all this and much more, " Amanpour wrote.

According to the CNN presenter, the interview would have been the first held by the Iranian president on American soil. However, forty minutes after the interview was scheduled to begin, Raisi's assistant approached Amanpour and informed her that the president "was suggesting [she] wear a headscarf" due to the fact that it was the holy months of Muharram and Safar.

"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, " she stated.

"The aide made it clear that the interview would not happen if I did not wear a headscarf. He said it was ‘a matter of respect,’ and referred to ‘the situation in Iran’ — alluding to the protests sweeping the country, " she continued.

Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in Tehran and later died in police custody, has sparked protests throughout the entire nation. According to NPR, Amini was apprehended by Iran's "morality police," who enforce public head covering regulations.

Since then, images and videos of women burning hijabs and cutting their hair to boisterous acclaim have spread throughout the media.

According to Reuters, at least eight people have perished in the protests thus far.

Amanpour stated that she was unable to accept "this unprecedented and unexpected condition."

“And so we walked away,” she concluded. “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.”

Amanpour later told the hosts of CNN's "New Day" that the dispute was “very unsettling.”

“We were going to have the first exclusive here in New York. He’d already done an interview in Iran with ’60 Minutes’ where the headscarf was also an issue. But there, because it is the custom, one always does wear the headscarf when one’s there, that’s just, otherwise you couldn’t operate as journalists,” she said.

“I have never been asked by any Iranian president, and I have interviewed every single one of them since 1995, either inside or outside Iran — never been asked to wear a headscarf.”

Publish : 2022-09-23 09:50:00

Give Your Comments