President of Iran Ibrahim RaisiSenior CNN reporter Christian Amanpour in New York canceled an interview with her after she refused to wear a veil at her request.
In a series of tweets, CNN’s chief international anchor said he was scheduled to meet Raisi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and to ask him about various topics, including the outbreak of protests. Iran Following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahza Amini, she was arrested and beaten by “discipline guards” for violating headscarf laws.
“This was President Rice’s first interview on US soil during his visit to NY for UNGA. After weeks of planning and eight hours of setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras, we were ready. But there is no sign of President Raisi,” Amanpour Tweeted Thursday.
Forty minutes after the interview was scheduled to begin, an aide approached Amanpour and said Raisi was “recommending.” [she] Wear a veil as Muharram and Safar are holy months,” he wrote.
Amanpour said he declined the request, explaining, “We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding the headscarf.” He added that no other Iranian president has required them to wear a headscarf when being interviewed outside Iran.
“The assistant made it clear that the interview would not take place if I did not wear the headscarf. He said it was a matter of respect and referred to the ‘situation in Iran’ – referring to the ongoing protests in the country,” Amanpour said.
“Again, I said I could not agree to this unprecedented and unexpected condition.”
As a result, Amanpour and his team left and the interview did not take place. A picture Amanpour posted at the end of her tweets showed her wearing a white dress, her hair uncovered, as she sat across an empty chair and waited for the Iranian president.
The British-Iranian journalist’s refusal to wear a headscarf drew widespread praise online.
“Good for @amanpour. The days of Iranian authorities requiring female reporters and officials to wear a hijab for interviews and meetings must end. Mandatory hijab reflects an archaic and intolerant ideology, not a culture. Tweeted Karim Sadjadpour is an Iranian-American policy analyst at the Carnegie Endowment, DC-based think tank.
NPR radio host Esther Ciamachilli retweeted Amanpour’s photo, to write“What do they mean when they say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words?'” Christian Amanpour’s honesty is fully intact.
Bahman Kalbasi, New York and UN correspondent for the BBC’s Persian Service, echoed similar sentiments, Tweeting: “Raisi did not show up for an interview with CNN after Christian Amanpour refused to wear the regime’s hijab. The Iranian regime’s president thinks he can impose the hijab in New York City, too. #MahsaAmini.”
Raisi was asked several times about Amini’s death during a briefing with reporters Thursday morning, which Iranian officials initially tried to limit to the subject of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear deal with the West.
Raisi repeated official claims that Amini died of a heart attack or stroke while in custody, adding that deaths in custody had occurred in the United States and England.
At least three women who attended the conference did not wear headscarves. A New York Times reporter was barred from the conference after reporting that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was seriously ill.
In a statement published Thursday, a New York Times spokesman said: “Iranian state media reported an official’s comment that a New York Times reporter had to ‘admit a mistake’ in a story about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in order to attend a press conference with President Raisi.”
“We stand by Farnas Fasihi’s report on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s health, which was confirmed by senior sources. Iranian officials were given an opportunity to comment on our story and declined to respond,” the spokesperson added.
At least 31 people have died in the six days of protests since Amini’s death. Iranian women are burning their headscarves and cutting their hair on the streets and online.
“A law that violates human dignity is not an ordinary law” said A female protester.