Iran’s foreign minister could not stop smirking as he was grilled about his country’s record on women’s rights in a combative interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
Hossein Amirabdollahian told the host ‘this is not the way to conduct an interview’ after he insisting women in Iran had ‘all the necessary, required freedoms’ and accused Western media of fueling protests there.
It comes just two days after diplomats walked out of a speech given by the Iranian minister to the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.
During the tense interview, Amirabdollahian claimed Mahsa Amini – the 22-year-old who died after being arrested by morality police for failing to wear the hijab – was turned into a ‘symbol’ by protesters.
‘You’re supposed to interview me but you’re actually having a confrontation with me,’ he told Amanpour.
Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian smiled as he chastised CNN host Christiane Amanpour, telling her ‘this is not the way to conduct an interview’
CNN host Amanpour laid into the Iranian foreign minister over his country’s record on women’s rights
‘This is not the way to conduct an interview. Women in Iran have all the necessary, required freedoms within the framework of the law,’ he added.
‘Do you ask other countries? Do you ask other countries who are in our region but are allies of the United States the same kinds of questions that you’re asking me about the women’s hijab?
‘The issue in Iran at the moment is not that of hijab.’
Widespread civil unrest broke out in Iran following the suspicious death of Amini on September 16, 2022.
The Law Enforcement Command of the Islamic Republic of Iran claimed she had a heart attack at a police station, collapsed, and fell into a coma before being transferred to a hospital.
But eyewitnesses allege she was severely beaten and died as a result of police brutality.
The case shed renewed light on the country’s treatment of women, with a growing number of female Iranians choosing to flout the Sharia-based law to wear the hijab.
Demonstrators have cut and burned their head coverings while shouting anti-government slogans.
It marks the longest-running anti-government protests in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with hundreds killed as a result.
Recently, up to 400 female pupils from around 30 schools were subjected to poisoning attacks in what is believed to be an attempt to stop them getting an education.
Noxious fumes wafted into their classrooms, causing some to need hospital treatment after complaining of headaches, heart palpitations, lethargy and being unable to move.
During Wednesday’s interview with CNN, Amirabdollahian accused western media outlets of encouraging violent protests in his country.
‘In Iran we had an incident. An Iranian girl passed away and we were all very sorry about that.
‘But foreign interference and the Persian-language media that are based in the United States and Britain focused their activities on encouraging and instigating the riots and acts of terror.
Mahsa Amini, 22, died on September 16, three days after falling into a coma following her arrest
After the death of Mahsa Amini, Anti Iran protests have been held in many parts of the world. Pictured: Protestors take part in an anti-Iran demonstration on December 24, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey
Women burned their headscarves in Kurdish-controlled north-east Syria in September 2022
‘And that’s why peaceful protests ended up becoming violent – because of the foreign intervention.
‘To the extent that Daesh or even ISIS exploited the situation to establish a presence in Iran.
He added: ‘I can tell you this in full confidence that our police and the security forces in Iran have not killed anyone with bullets or any other means in these riots.’
He claimed police did not have the power to use firearms in the riots.
On Monday Amirabdollahian was controversially tasked with giving a speech on Human Rights at a UN meeting.
Videos circulating on Twitter appeared to show dozens of UN diplomats walking out as he started to speak.
In one clip an unidentified Iranian woman can be heard saying: ‘They are without shame and should be embarrassed. They are child killers.’
A letter by UN Watch – a Geneva-based organization monitoring activities of the UN – urged all 193 members to leave the meeting.
It gathered more than 100 signatures from prominent lawmakers, human rights campaigners and celebrities.
During the meeting Amirabdollahian said Iran’s government was committed to upholding human rights.