Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi withdrew from a long-planned interview with CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour at the UN General Assembly in New York after she declined a last-minute demand to wear a headscarf, CNN reports.
The president’s action came after days of protests in Iran where a 22 year old woman died after having been detained by the police reportedly for not wearing her headscarf properly.
The woman fell into coma at a detention centre after having been arrested on September 13. She died three days later at hospital. Police force denied accusations of violence when she was arrested.
Her death is reported to have led to huge protests in the country with women burning their headscarfs protesting against the country’s strict dress code for women.
CNN reports that some 40 minutes after the interview with Raisi was scheduled due to start and with Raisi running late, an aide told Amanpour the president had suggested that she wear a headscarf. Amanpour said that she “politely declined.”
Amanpour, who grew up in the Iranian capital Tehran and is a fluent Farsi speaker, said that she wears a headscarf while reporting in Iran to comply with the local laws and customs, “otherwise you couldn’t operate as a journalist.” But she said that she would not cover her head to conduct an interview with an Iranian official outside a country where it is not required, CNN reports.
“As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, it would have been an important moment to speak with President Raisi,” Amanpour said in a Twitter thread.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian law requires all women to wear a head covering and loose-fitting clothing in public. The rule has been enforced in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and it is obligatory for every woman in the country — including tourists, visiting political figures and journalists.