CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour revealed that an interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday night was canceled, after she declined the president’s last-minute demand to wear a headscarf.
“I politely declined,” Amanpour wrote on Twitter. “We are in New York, where there is no law of tradition regarding headscarves. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president has required this when I have interviewed them outside Iran.”
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According to Amanpour, an aide told the veteran journalist that President Raisi suggested that she wear a headscarf “because it’s the holy months of Muharram and Safar.”
After declining their initial request, the aide then informed Amanpour that they would pull the interview if she refused.
“And so we walked away. The interview didn’t happen,” she added. “As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, it would have been an important moment to speak with President Raisi.”
The scheduled interview, which would have been held in New York during the president’s visit to the United Nations General Assembly, took “weeks of planning and eight hours of setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras,” Amanpour wrote.
For President Raisi’s first-ever interview on U.S. soil, Amanpour intended to discuss the protests in Iran related to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in “morality police” custody. During these protests, women have been burning their hijabs, with human rights groups saying that at least eight have been killed.
“Again, I said that I couldn’t agree to this unprecedented and unexpected condition,” Amanpour wrote on Twitter about the president’s headscarf request.
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. 4/7
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) September 22, 2022
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