CNN’s chief international anchor Chrisitian Amanpour said Thursday she turned down the first-ever interview with Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi on U.S. soil after he demanded she wear a headscarf during the filming.
The clash came after Raisi kept Amanpour waiting over 40 minutes for the face-to-face, which was scheduled weeks in advance.
The request for the anchor to wear the headscarf came after her crew had spent eight hours setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras for the interview, Amanpour said in a Twitter thread, when an aide of President Raisi approached her.
“The president, he said, was suggesting I wear a headscarf, because it’s the holy months of Muharram and Safar,” she tweeted. “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 said the interview would not happen if the veteran newswoman did not wear a headscarf as “a matter of respect,” she said. He referred to “the situation in Iran,” meaning the widespread protests sweeping the country.
At least nine women have been killed in the protests since the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody after being arrested by the “morality police,” the Associated Press reported, calling the unrest the worst the country has seen in years.
“Again, I said that I couldn’t agree to this unprecedented and unexpected condition,” Amanpour said. “And so we walked away. The interview didn’t happen. As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, it would have been an important moment to speak with President Raisi.”
Read Amanpour’s Twitter thread in full below.
Protests are sweeping Iran & 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. 1/7
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) September 22, 2022