Christiane Amanpour, the anchor of Amanpour, a global affairs interview programme on CNN International, says Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi declined an interview with her because she refused to wear a headscarf.
She made this known in a series of posts on her Twitter page on Thursday.
Amanpour said she had scheduled to interview Raisi on issues around the protest during his visit to New York for the United Nations general assembly (UNGA77).
However, 40 minutes after the scheduled time, she said the president’s aide requested that she puts on a headscarf because it is the holy month of Muharram and Safar.
Amanpour said she “politely declined” the request.
“Protests are sweeping Iran and 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,” she wrote on Twitter.
“This was going to be President Raisi’s first ever 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 no sign of President Raisi… 40 minutes after the interview had been due to start, an aide came over. The president, he said, was suggesting I wear a headscarf because it’s 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.
“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.
“Again, I said that I couldn’t agree to this unprecedented and unexpected condition.”
Amanpour added that it would have been an “important moment” to speak with Raisi amid the protests and killings in Iran.