CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said Thursday that she was stepping back from an interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after one of his aides said it wouldn’t happen unless she wore a headscarf.

In a Twitter thread, Amanpour noted how a scheduled interview with Raisi on Wednesday night in New York fell apart, characterizing the aide’s request as “unprecedented and unforeseen circumstances.”

Amanpour, CNN’s international anchor, said he planned to ask Raisi about the protests sweeping Iran after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman detained by the country’s moral police for allegedly violating a strictly enforced dress code, died in custody. last week.

Raisi is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

Iranian authorities say Amini died last Friday after falling ill and falling into a coma as she waited with another woman detained by the moral police. Authorities have admitted to making arrests at subsequent protests, but they deny molesting Amini and say they are investigating her death.

Amini’s family has denied that she has any health problems.

In recent days, Iranian security forces have clashed with anti-government protesters angry over Amini’s death, with some women burning their headscarves in defiance of the moral police and the wider atmosphere of social repression in the country. The deadly riots have been documented on social media.

Amanpour said he and his CNN team planned the interview for weeks and spent eight hours on Wednesday setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras.

“[W]e is ready,” he wrote in part. “But no sign of President Raisi.”

People protest the death of a woman detained by the moral police in downtown Tehran, Iran, on September 21, 2022.
People in Tehran this week protested the death of a woman detained by the moral police.AP

Forty minutes after the interview was scheduled to start, an Iranian presidential aide came and said that the president “suggested” that Amanpour wear a headscarf in recognition of the holy months of Muharram and Safar, he wrote. (Amanpour did not identify his aide.)

“I politely declined,” Amanpour wrote. “We are in New York, where there are no laws or traditions about the hijab. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president has required this when I interviewed them outside Iran.”

“The aide explained that the interview would not have taken place if I had not worn the hijab,” she wrote. “He said it was ‘a matter of respect,’ and referred to the ‘situation in Iran’ – alluding to the protests that have swept the country.”

Amanpour wrote that he told the aide he could not agree to what he described as “unprecedented and unforeseen conditions” for the interview.

“And so we went. The interview didn’t happen,” Amanpour wrote in the closing post of the Twitter thread. “As protests continue in Iran and people are killed, it will be an important moment to talk to President Raisi.”

Amanpour’s last tweet in the thread was accompanied by a photo of him facing an empty chair.

NBC News could not immediately reach Raisi for comment as the president’s office was closed until Saturday.

In a statement, a CNN spokesperson said: “We fully support Christiane and his team’s decision to politely decline an interview with President Raisi.”

In his address to world leaders at the United Nations on Wednesday, Raisi did not discuss the escalating unrest in his country, but instead used his time to attack the West and what he called the “double standards of some governments on human rights.”

Leave a Reply