Amid protests in Iran, CNN journalist cancels interview with president over headscarf requirement

2 hours ago

Credit, Christiane Amanpour

photo caption,

Journalist Christiane Amanpour canceled an interview with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi

CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour claimed to have canceled an interview with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi after he demanded that she wear a head veil during their meeting in New York.

Amanpour claimed that no previous president had requested a headscarf when she interviewed them outside of Iran.

The reporter says that an aide to Raisi informed her that the request was related to the “situation in Iran”.

The death of a woman, who was detained by Iranian police for allegedly violating the veil rules, sparked violent protests in the country.

Mahsa Amini, 22, slipped into a coma last week, hours after being arrested by the so-called “morality police”.

The police reportedly hit Amini over the head with a bat. Then they pushed his head against a police car. Iranian police said there was no evidence of ill-treatment and that Amini suffered “sudden heart failure”.

This Thursday marked the seventh day of protests in Iran. They took place in about 80 cities and towns across the country. At least 17 people died in the demonstrations.

The CNN interview would be Raisi’s first on American soil. The president went to New York to address the UN General Assembly.

Amanpour said she was ready to conduct the interview when one of the Iranian president’s aides insisted she cover her hair. The request would have been made by Raisi.

“We are in New York where there is no law or tradition regarding head scarves,” the journalist later said on Twitter.

Credit, EPA

photo caption,

Ebrahim Raisi signed order increasing restrictions on women not wearing a veil

Amanpour said Raisi’s publicist made it clear that the interview would not take place if she didn’t put a veil on her head, saying it was “a matter of respect”.

According to the journalist, after the request, her team withdrew from the site, refusing what she called an “unprecedented and unexpected condition”.

Later, the news network anchor posted a picture of her without a headscarf in front of an empty chair where Raisi would sit for the interview.

Raisi was elected president of Iran last year. In August of this year, he signed an order to impose a new list of restrictions on women.

The list includes the introduction of surveillance cameras to monitor and fine women without headscarves and refer them for “counseling”. A prison sentence is also provided for any Iranian who questions or posts content against the hijab (head veil) rules on the internet.

The restrictions have led to an increase in arrests, but they have also led to a surge in the number of women posting pictures and videos of themselves without a veil on social media – a movement that intensified in the days following Amini’s death.

Analysis by Lyse Doucet, Head of BBC International Correspondents

Veiling is an issue women correspondents face when interviewing senior Iranian officials. When we work in the country, where its use is mandatory, we have to obey the rule.

In the past, Iranian authorities have accepted that the rule does not apply beyond its borders.

But the image of a female correspondent – and one of Iranian descent, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour – questioning an ultra-conservative president about an explosive issue in the country must have been seen as too politically risky for Ebrahim Raisi.

There is a similar problem in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Some powerful Taliban say there can be no images of them sitting with a female journalist. But some are less strict.

Many of us correspondents are guided by what works best to get the best interview. There is a balance between not showing disrespect and not accepting impositions. But when the subject of the interview is veils on women’s heads, it’s a different story.


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The article is in Portuguese

Tags: protests Iran CNN journalist cancels interview president headscarf requirement

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