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The Margin: CNN’s Christiane Amanpour pulls out of interview with Iran president after ‘unprecedented’ request she wear a headscarf


CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour said on Thursday that she pulled out of an interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after she was told she must wear a headscarf. Amanpour refused and the interview was canceled.

Amanpour detailed the situation in a viral Twitter

thread, saying that one of Raisi’s aides asked her to wear a headscarf during the interview or else the interview would not happen, something Amanpour called an “unprecedented and unexpected condition.”

Amanpour noted in the thread that the interview was in New York, where no such law or tradition regarding headscarves for women exists.

Amanpour says she was set to ask the Iranian President about the series of protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini, who perished in police custody after allegedly violating Iran’s strictly enforced dress code.

Iranian authorities say Amini died of a heart attack while in police custody.

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Protestors have been chanting “Death to the dictator” in some Iranian cities this week and some women have removed their hijabs to protest Amini’s death.

While speaking at the U.N. General Assembly this week, Raisi said the death must be “steadfastly” investigated.

“It must certainly be investigated,” Raisi said. “I contacted her family at the very first opportunity and I assured them we would continue steadfastly to investigate that incident. … Our utmost preoccupation is the safeguarding of the rights of every citizen.”

They are some of the most serious demonstrations since 2019, when protests erupted over a government hike in the price of gasoline. Rights groups say hundreds of people were killed in the crackdown that followed, the deadliest violence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The latest protests are similarly widespread, but seem to have much broader support among the population, with Iranians of all walks of life expressing fury at Amini’s death and the government’s treatment of women.

Iran’s state-run media this week reported demonstrations in at least 13 cities, including the capital, Tehran. Videos online show security forces firing tear gas and water canons to disperse hundreds of protesters. London-based Amnesty International reported that officers also fired birdshot and beat protesters with batons.

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Footage on social media from the northern city of Tabriz shows a young man allegedly shot by security forces bleeding out in the street as protesters shout for help.

Another video showed a policeman firing a shotgun at a demonstrator who was tearing down a pro-government billboard in the North Khorasan province. It’s unclear if he was wounded.

In another video, protesters can be seen torching a massive billboard showing Qassem Soleimani — Iran’s top general who was killed in a U.S. airstrike — in his hometown of Kerman. Soleimani has iconic status among government supporters.

At least nine people have died in the confrontations, according to an AP count based on statements from Iran’s state-run and semiofficial media. In a statement on Thursday, the Guard blamed the unrest on “Iran’s enemies.”

In Amini’s home province of Kurdistan, the provincial police chief said four protesters were shot dead. In Kermanshah, the prosecutor said two protesters were killed, insisting that the bullets were not fired by Iran’s security forces.

Three men affiliated with the Basij, a volunteer force under the Guard, were reportedly killed in clashes in the cities of Shiraz, Tabriz and Mashhad, bringing the death toll acknowledged by officials to at least nine on both sides.

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Iran has grappled with waves of protests in the recent past, mainly over a long-running economic crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions linked to its nuclear program. Citizens also blame government corruption and mismanagement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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