Iranian president cancels interview with CNN reporter who refused to wear headscarf

AA / Ankara / Busra Nur Cakmak

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Thursday canceled an interview with CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour after she refused his request to wear a veil, according to the journalist.

“Demonstrations are on the rise in Iran and women are burning their hijabs following the death of Mahsa Amini last week, following her arrest by the ‘morals police’. Human rights groups say that at least eight people were killed. Last night I had planned to question President Raisi about all of this and more,” Amanpour wrote on Twitter.

And to add: “This was to be the very first interview of President (Ebrahim) Raisi on American soil, during his visit to New York for the General Assembly of the United Nations. After weeks of planning and eight hours of installation of translation equipment, lights and cameras, we were ready. But no sign of President Raisi”.

A aide to the president approached Amanpour 40 minutes after the scheduled start of the interview and asked him to wear a headscarf “because these are the holy months of Muharram and Safar”.

Amanpour said he refused the request.

“We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding the wearing of the veil. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president has required this when I interviewed them outside Iran” , she said.

According to Amanpour, the collaborator “made it clear to him that the interview wouldn’t take place if I didn’t wear a veil. He said it was a ‘matter of respect’ and referred to the ‘situation in Iran’, alluding to the protests rocking the country”.

The internationally recognized journalist and her team then withdrew, explaining that she could not accept “this unexpected and unprecedented condition.”

“The interview did not take place. As protests continue in Iran and people are killed, this would have been an important time to speak with President Raisi,” she said.

Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Authorities have sought to blame her death on a heart attack, but her family and many Iranians have dismissed that claim, saying she was the victim of police brutality.

Her father, Amjad Amini, told BBC Persian on Wednesday that authorities refused to allow him to see his daughter’s body after she died.

“They are lying. They are telling lies. Everything is a lie (…) I begged, they did not want to let me see my daughter”, he declared, adding: “I have no idea what they did to him.”

Amjad Amini said his daughter’s body was completely wrapped up for burial except for her feet and face when he was finally allowed to see her. Bruises were visible on his feet, he claimed.

At least nine Iranians have been killed in protests sparked by the young woman’s death.

*Translated from English by Mourad Belhaj


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