CNN's Christiane Amanpour declines interview with Iran President Raisi over hijab 'order'

CNN's Christiane Amanpour declines interview with Iran President Raisi over hijab 'order'
CNN Anchor Christiane Amanpour declined to interview Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi in New York after he allegedly requested her to wear a headscarf as a condition of the interview.
3 min read
22 September, 2022
Activists praised the anchor for her decision to walk away from the interview [Getty]

CNN legend Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi after he allegedly demanded that she wear a headscarf during the talk.

The anchor was set to question the hardline president in his first interview on American soil, during his visit to New York amid a violent suppression of protests in Iran.

Plans changed when an aide "made it clear" Amanpour should wear a headscarf during the interview, she said.

Raisi visited America for the United Nations' General Assembly, as Tehran comes under fire for its deadly crackdown on activists protesting the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in detention after allegedly wearing her headscarf in an "improper" way.

The young woman died on Friday after allegedly being beaten by the country's morality police following her arrest.

"[Forty] minutes after the interview had been due to start, an aide came over. The president, he said, was suggesting I wear a headscarf, because it's the holy months of Muharram and Safar," Amanpour said.

"I politely declined. We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves… 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," she added.

The anchor reportedly told the aide that she could not agree to the "unprecedented and unexpected condition", and eventually walked away, despite it being "an important moment to speak with Raisi".

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Twitter - where Amanpour shared her alleged experience - largely backed the anchor on her stance.

"Why is it that 'respect' only ever goes one way?  He should respect your differing views and culture… I hope your production team back you up, and don't insist you accede to such 'requests'," @PictorMary tweeted.

"The interview on US soil meant he had to respect YOU, not the other way around.  Thank you for holding your ground," @WidsterWeakly tweeted.

Others said they hoped Amanpour would wear the headscarf and remove it mid-way through the interview, to see the president's reaction.

"Wish you would have agreed to wear the scarf and then removed it mid-way through the interview. That would have been an illuminating perspective for the world to see," another anonymous user said.

A few defended Raisi's request.

"He has the right to ask for whatever he believes in, and u had the right to refuse. And that is all," Fotovat said.

At least 11 people have been killed as Iran's violent crackdown on protesters continues.

Iranian authorities have denied any involvement in the deaths of protesters, as global internet monitor NetBlocks announced the country has restricted internet and network access amid the crackdown.