Christiane Amanpour Refused to Wear Head Scarf for Iran's President
Category: News & PoliticsVia: perrie-halpern • last year • 32 comments
By: Lloyd Lee (Business Insider)
Christiane Amanpour in Beverly Hills, California, on July 30, 2018. Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP Redeem now
- CNN's Christiane Amanpour walked away from a long-anticipated interview with Iran's president.
- The anchor "politely declined" to wear a head scarf since the interview took place on US soil.
- Her decision follows a history of women journalists declining to wear the clothing for interviews.
CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour walked away from a rare and highly-anticipated interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday after she declined to wear a head scarf.
Amanpour's decision came amid ongoing protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after she was arrested on suspicion of breaking hijab rules.
—Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) September 22, 2022
On Twitter, Amanpour said that Raisi was late to the interview in New York and received a last-minute request to wear a head scarf from one of the president's aides.
"40 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 Safa," Amanpour tweeted on Thursday. "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 president's aide said that the interview "would not happen if I did not wear a head scarf" and that the piece of clothing was a "matter of respect," Amanpour wrote.
Raisi, who spoke at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, did not directly address the issue of headscarves but previously stated that he had contacted Amini's family, amid ongoing demonstrations over the death of the young woman.
"Your daughter is like my own daughter, and I feel that this incident happened to one of my loved ones," he said.
Amanpour's case is not the first time a reporter declined to wear clothing that is compulsory for women in Iran.
In 1979, the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who was known for her unflinching interviews with world leaders, met with Iran's Ayatollah Imam Khomeini, during the height of the revolution. The interview was published in the New York Times that year.
When the reporter arrived at Khomeini's home in a chador, a long piece of cloth that leaves only the face exposed, Fallaci immediately began questioning some of the Ayatollah's actions, from the crackdown of scrutinizing newspapers to summary executions, according to a New Yorker profile of the journalist, titled "Agitator."
Fallaci soon asked the Ayatollah about the clothing for women: "Tell me, why do you force them to hide themselves, all bundled up under these uncomfortable and absurd garments, making it hard to work and move about?"
Khomeini replied: "The women who contributed to the revolution were, and are, women with the Islamic dress, not elegant women all made up like you, who go around all uncovered, dragging behind them a tail of men. The coquettes who put on makeup and go into the street showing off their necks, their hair, their shapes, did not fight against the Shah. They never did anything good, not those."
In a follow-up question, Fallaci, almost insubordinately asked, "By the way, how do you swim in a chador?"
Khomeini snapped and said, "This is none of your business. Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it."
"That's very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I'm going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now," Fallaci said.
In an email to The New Yorker, Fallaci said that Khomeini "acted offended" and left the interview at that point.
"I had to wait for 24 hours (or 48?) to see him again and conclude the interview," she wrote to the magazine.
When she was able to return, Khomeini's son Ahmed said that his father was still upset and advised not to mention the word, chador. But the journalist remained defiant. She immediately returned to the subject with Khomeini as the tape recorder went back on, according to The New Yorker.
"First he looked at me in astonishment," Fallaci told the magazine. "Total astonishment. Then his lips moved in a shadow of a smile. Then the shadow of a smile became a real smile. And finally it became a laugh. He laughed, yes. And, when the interview was over, Ahmed whispered to me, 'Believe me, I never saw my father laugh. I think you are the only person in this world who made him laugh.'"
Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know. Subscribe to push notifications Deal iconAn icon in the shape of a lightning bolt.