As Iran erupted in violence over the death of a young woman in the custody of ‘morals police’, CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour had her own altercation over a headscarf with the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Raisi suddenly pulled out of a long-planned interview in New York after Amanpour turned down his last-minute request to wear a headscarf. “It was very disturbing,” Amanpour said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day.”
The unusual confrontation came as protesters clashed with police following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. She had been arrested last week by Iran’s “morality” police because her headscarf was allegedly too loose to comply with the country’s strictly enforced Islamic dress restrictions for women.
Police claimed she died of heart failure, but her family said she was in perfect health and had no history of heart problems.
Amanpour said tension around such a crackdown has escalated in Iran, but has become increasingly volatile since the election of the current “tough” government, including Raisi. The treatment of women is “always the barometer” of Iranian government policy, Amanpour noted.
Amanpour, who grew up in Tehran, said she always wore a headscarf while working in Iran because it’s the custom, “otherwise you just couldn’t work there as a journalist”, he said. she adds.
“Here in New York, or anywhere outside of Iran, no Iranian president has ever asked me – and I’ve interviewed every one of them since 1995 – whether inside or outside from Iran, I was never asked to wear a headscarf,” Amanpour said.
But Raisi was already 40 minutes late for the interview Wednesday night at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan when her aide suddenly told Amanpour that the president “needed” her to wear a headscarf.
Raisi’s assistant said it was a “matter of respectreferred to the current holy month as well as “the situation” in Iran, Amanpour said.
This would have been Raisi’s first interview on American soil.
“I very politely declined on my behalf and on behalf of CNN, and women reporters everywhere because it’s not a requirement, and it was thrown at us at the very last minute,” Amanpour said.
“I think he didn’t want to be seen with a woman without a headscarf right now,” she added.
On Friday, at least nine people were killed in clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters furious over Amini’s death, according to the Associated Press.
The scale of the ongoing unrest, the worst in several years, remains unclear, but protests have erupted in at least a dozen cities over the crackdown and mounting economic and social crises, AP noted.
Many Iranians, especially young people, view Amini’s death as part of the Islamic Republic’s far too harsh policy against dissent and the morality police’s increasingly violent treatment of young women.
The Huffington Gt