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Iran’s president cancels interview with CNN journalist after she refuses to wear headscarf

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at U.N. headquarters on September 21, 2022 in New York City, United States. ( Tayfun Coşkun - Anadolu Agency )
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Sep 23, 2022 - 05:11 AM

ANKARA (AA) – President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran canceled an interview Thursday with CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour after she refused his request to wear a headscarf, according to the reporter.

“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,” Amanpour wrote on Twitter.

“This was going to be President (Ebrahim) Raisi’s first ever interview on US soil, during his visit to NY for UNGA. After weeks of planning and eight hours of setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras, we were ready. But no sign of President Raisi,” she added, referring to the UN General Assembly.

A presidential aide went to Amanpour 40 minutes after the interview had been scheduled to begin and asked her to wear a headscarf “because it’s the holy months of Muharram and Safar.”

Amanpour said she declined the request.

“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,” she said.

Amanpour claimed the aide “made it clear that the interview would not happen if I did not wear a headscarf. He said it was ‘a matter of respect,’ and referred to ‘the situation in Iran’ – alluding to the protests sweeping the country.”

The internationally-recognized journalist and her team then walked away, saying she could not agree to “this unprecedented and unexpected condition.”

“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,” she said.

Amini, 22, was detained for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Authorities have sought to pin blame on her death on a heart attack but her family and many in Iran have rejected that claim, saying she was the victim of police brutality.

Amini’s father, Amjad Amini, told BBC Persian on Wednesday that authorities refused to allow him to see his daughter’s body following her death.

“They’re lying. They’re telling lies. Everything is a lie … no matter how much I begged, they wouldn’t let me see my daughter,” he said. “I have no idea what they did to her.”

Amini said his daughter’s body was fully wrapped for burial except for her feet and face when he was finally allowed to see her. Bruising was visible on her feet, he said.

At least six Iranians have been killed in protests triggered by her death.​​​​​​​

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