Christiane Amanpour and her stand against Iran’s morality police

Christiane Amanpour and her stand against Irans morality police

Faith Spalding, Peyton Rohr, and Riley Brown

It’s been 10 days since protests in Iran broke out following the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini. Three days after being apprehended by Iran’s infamous morality police, then taken to a “re-education center,” Amini died in a hospital. Instituted by Iran’s infamous “morality police,” the Hijab has been mandatory since Iran’s revolution ended in 1979. As protests have sprung up across the country, over 76 people have been killed, including women and children. As Iran continues to block internet access, these numbers will continue to grow, without an accurate estimate on the true number of deaths or injuries. 

Following Amini’s death, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, an Iranian-American journalist, was scheduled to interview Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Just prior to the interview, his aide asked her to wear a headscarf during the meeting due to the controversy in Iran around the recent death of Mahsa Amini. Without hesitation, Amanpour refused the request, causing Raisi to cancel the interview. “Why? No, I don’t have to wear a scarf…As a journalist, I made, instantaneously, a journalistic decision, based on the principle that a) it wasn’t law, and b) you don’t get strong-armed by a foreign government or any government when you’re trying to sit and conduct a previously arranged interview,” she stated on The Daily Show

Christiane Amanpour’s stance against the Iranian President is an important challenge to the oppressive rules being enforced on women by the Iranian government. If Amanpour let the Iranian government force her to wear a scarf on American soil, it would signify that the U.S. validates Iran’s harsh and sexist rule. Iran’s regime has been controlling women and their bodies for over 40 years, with Ayatollah Khomeini’s mandate of Islamic dress code in March 1979, but the new president has doubled down on these rules. The introduction of the Morality police in 2005 has made breaking the Islamic dress code much harder and more dangerous for women, and many activists are currently in prison for speaking out against both the religious laws and the government.

Women’s rights have been brushed under the rug for as long as they’ve existed (or haven’t, for that matter.) Bringing it up has always led to ridicule: the Suffragettes were harassed and painted as ugly, husbandless caricatures in the 1800’s and 1900’s for wanting equal rights, and today if you call yourself a feminist you’re dubbed “whiny” “obnoxious” “a misandrist”, or just get eyes rolled at you and told equality ‘already exists’. The recent protests around the discrimination Iranian women are facing has sparked yet another women’s movement and another chance for equity.

By choosing to take a stance against the regime rather than give in to the request, Amanpour chose her ethical integrity over getting the story. This stance caused a powerful ripple effect among women everywhere and how protecting women’s rights should be a priority. Not only is this effect felt across women as a whole, it is especially pertinent to women in journalism. When navigating interviews, public image, and general opinion towards them, females in journalism can have a hard time gaining reputability and popularity, which may lead to them conforming to requests like that of Raisi’s. Amanpour’s unwavering attitude towards her own rights shows females across journalism that their own self-respect is far more important than any interview or story. It is a powerful commentary against the idea that women are made to be walked on and that they can not stand up for themselves when men exert their authority. Women in journalism are often looked down on and seen as less than, but Amanpour’s actions have shown the world that female journalists deserve just as much respect and attention as male journalists.