Mahsa Amini’s death in Iranian police custody is making waves across the world, including in the U.S., where CNN’s Christiane Amanpour canceled an interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi over the demand that she wears a headscarf.
“I politely declined,” Amanpour said on Twitter. “We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition requiring headscarves.”
Amanpour, who is British-Iranian, took to Twitter Thursday about her would-be interview with Raisi, pointing out it would be his first interview on U.S. soil. “Forty minutes after the interview had been due to start, an aide came over,” she tweeted. “The president, he said, was suggesting I wear a headscarf, because it’s the holy months of Muharram and Safar.”
After she politely declined, the aide suggested that it was “a matter of respect” considering the protests around the country over 22-year-old’s Amini’s arrest for improperly wearing a headscarf and her subsequent death.
“Again, I said that I couldn’t agree to this unprecedented and unexpected condition,” Amanpour tweeted. “And so we walked away. The interview didn’t happen.”
She explained that the interview was weeks in the making, and her team spent eight hours setting up lights, cameras and translation equipment. “As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, it would have been an important moment to speak with President Raisi.”
Protests have broken out across 80 cities in Iran, with new state-organized counter-protests breaking out Friday. Pro-government demonstrators called for the executions of “offenders of the Koran” and chanted, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” according to Reuters.
Iran has also now shut down mobile Internet connections, and cut access to Instagram and WhatsApp, two popular social media platforms that are being used by citizens to share news and videos of the protests, according to Wired.
Meanwhile, widespread backlash against the government wages on. Videos emerged of women taking off their headscarves and throwing them into a bonfire, while others publicly cut their hair in protest.
This comes after Amini’s death last week. Officials say she was arrested by morality police for improperly wearing a headscarf, suffered a heart attack and spent two days in a coma before dying.
However, that is not the general belief over what happened. Her family disputes the account, saying that she had no prior health conditions that would lead to a heart attack.
The UN independent human rights experts sided with her family, condemning her death in police custody and called her a “victim of Iran’s sustained repression and systemic discrimination against women,” in a statement.
“We strongly condemn the use of physical violence against women and the denial of fundamental human dignity when enforcing compulsory hijab policies ordained by State authorities,” the statement continued. “We call on the Iranian authorities to hold an independent, impartial, and prompt investigation into Ms Amini’s death, make the findings of the investigation public and hold all perpetrators accountable”.
Amnesty International has also spoken out against Iran’s actions, and added that President Raisi should not be “given a platform on the world stage” at the United Nations General Assembly being held in New York.
The organization also condemned violence against the protesters, with some expert estimates more than 30 people being killed in the protests since last week, according to BBC Persian.