Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has declined an interview with a CNN reporter: Christiane Amanpour had refused to wear a headscarf. “It was very worrying,” Amanpour said (Thursday local time) on CNN’s New Day.
The headscarf is a “question of respect,” Raisi’s adjutant Amanpour said shortly before the interview that was scheduled for Wednesday at the United Nations in New York. It would have been the Iranian President’s first interview in the United States.
The cancellation comes against the background of the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman in police custody. Police arrested her last week on charges that her headgear was too loose and did not comply with Iranian dress codes for women. At least nine other people have been killed in subsequent demonstrations.
Amanpour said the treatment of women has always been a political barometer of Iranian government policies. This is even more explosive than before under the hardliner Raisi. The internationally renowned CNN reporter grew up in Tehran and claims to have always worn a headscarf when doing her research in Iran. Without it, working as a journalist there would not be possible.
Amanpour has interviewed every Iranian president since 1995. Never before had one of them asked her to wear a headscarf.