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Iran’s President Quits CNN Interview After Amanpour Turns Down Demand For A Head Scarf

Iran’s President Quits CNN Interview: After she turned down a last-minute request to wear a head scarf, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi canceled a long-planned interview with CNN’s chief foreign anchor Christiane Amanpour at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

Raisi arrived for the interview 40 minutes late, and an aide informed Amanpour that the president had recommended she wear a head scarf.

According to Amanpour, she “politely declined.” Since she was raised in Tehran, the capital of Iran, and speaks fluent Farsi, Amanpour explained that she must abide by local laws and customs to report from Iran without donning a head scarf.

“Otherwise, you couldn’t operate as a journalist.” However, she asserted that she would not wear a head covering while speaking with an Iranian official outside of a nation where doing so is not compulsory.

“Here in New York, or anywhere else outside of Iran, I have never been asked by any Iranian president — and I have interviewed every single one of them since 1995 — either inside or outside of Iran, never been asked to wear a head scarf,” she said on CNN’s “New Day” program Thursday.

“I politely declined on behalf of myself and CNN and female journalists everywhere because it is not a requirement.” All Iranian women are required by law to dress modestly and cover their heads while they are in public.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the law has been in place and is mandatory for all women living in Iran, including visitors, journalists, and visiting political figures. Enter your email to subscribe to the “Meanwhile in the Middle East” Newsletter from CNN.

Iran's President Quits CNN Interview
Iran’s President Quits CNN Interview

The interview, which would have been the Iranian president’s first on American territory, was explicitly stated by Raisi’s adviser, according to Amanpour, that it would not take place if she did not wear a head scarf.  He referred to it as “a matter of respect,” given that it is the holy months of Muharram and Safar, and to “the situation in Iran,” she added, alluding to the protests sweeping the country.

Last week, anti-government demonstrations broke out throughout Iran in response to the death in detention of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been detained by Iran’s morality police after being accused of breaking the law about head coverings.

In protest against the law, thousands of individuals have come to the streets, including some women who have chopped their hair and burned their hijabs. According to witnesses and footage posted on social media, at least eight people have reportedly died in the protests, which have been greeted with a harsh crackdown by the government.

The protests appear to be the most extensive manifestations of disobedience to the Islamic Republic’s authority, which has gotten stricter since Raisi’s hard-line cabinet was elected last year. Iran elected Raisi, an ultra-conservative court leader whose views are in sync with those of the nation’s vital clergy and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after eight years of Hassan Rouhani’s moderate administration.

The head scarf is a striking representation of the personal restrictions on Iranians by the country’s clerical leaders. They control what they can wear, watch, and engage in. Protests have erupted over the past ten years as many Iranians have grown angry about these restrictions.

The death of Amini has sparked a long-simmering outburst of rage against limitations on individual freedoms. According to surveys and reports from recent years, a growing number of Iranians do not feel the hijab or head scarf should be required.

According to Emtedad news, an Iranian pro-reform media outlet, Amini’s family has stated that she did not have a pre-existing cardiac disease, despite Iranian authorities’ claims that she died after having a “heart attack” and going into a coma. The public anger has also been fueled by the skepticism of the authorities’ explanation for her death.

According to CCTV footage posted by Iran’s state television, Mahsa Amini was captured on camera falling at a “re-education” facility where the morality police had sent her to receive “advice” on her clothing.

Amanpour had intended to question Raisi about the protests, the killing of Amini, the nuclear deal, and Iran’s backing for Russia in Ukraine. Still, she had to leave, according to Amanpour.

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