On Friday, September 16, 22-year-old Iranian Mahsa Amini died from injuries sustained after she was arrested by "morality police" for not wearing her headscarf properly. The nation has erupted in protests and riots following her death.
When Mahsa Amini was arrested, and ultimately killed, for wearing her hijab headscarf in an "improper" way, thousands of women took to the streets to protest and demonstrate. Many even ripped off their own headscarves and threw them in bonfires. In the capital of Tehran, men and women chanted, "we will fight and take our country back." Journalist Christiane Amanpour had plans to sit down with Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and ask him questions about the unrest in his country, but he didn't follow through due to her attire.
Iranian President Ditched Interview With Christiane Amanpour in New York Because She Refused to Wear a Headscarf
The 77th session of the UN General Assembly opened on Tuesday, September 13 in New York City and President Raisi was in attendance. He also gave a speech saying that Iran "rejects the double standards of some governments regarding human rights," adding that the US unfairly imposes sanctions on Iran.
“The United States keeps equivocating militarism with security and has pursued its interests in the world at the expense of other countries,” Raisi said.
However, in his speech he did not address the passing of Amini and the protests that have erupted as a result of her arrest and death. It's estimated that at least eight people have been killed during the riots.
Amanpour tweeted a thread on Twitter saying that she planned to ask President Raisi about the unrest in his country. "This was going to be President Raisi’s first ever interview on US soil, during his visit to NY for UNGA," she said. "After weeks of planning and eight hours of setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras, we were ready. But no sign of President Raisi."
Allegedly, Raisi's aide approached Amanpour and her team 40 minutes after the interview was supposed to start, saying that they couldn't conduct the interview due to Amanpour's attire.
"The president, he said, was suggesting I wear a headscarf, because it’s the holy months of Muharram and Safar," she wrote. "I politely declined. 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."
The aide "made it clear" that the interview would be cancelled if she refused to put on a headscarf. According to him it was "a matter of respect" and Amanpour said he referred to "the situation in Iran," presumably the nationwide protests.
"Again, I said that I couldn't agree to this unprecedented and unexpected condition," she wrote. "And so we walked away. 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 shared a picture of herself sitting across from the empty chair in which President Raisi was supposed to be seated.