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NPR asks a senior Iranian official about protests and Iran's conservative dress code


Last fall, Iran saw mass protests after the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody. She was known by her Kurdish name, Jina. She'd been arrested for allegedly wearing her headscarf improperly. All Things Considered co-host Mary Louise Kelly is reporting in Iran this week. Yesterday, she sat down with the country's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The foreign minister spoke through his interpreter. Their wide-ranging conversation included the government's response to the protests and the current state of the country's conservative dress code.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, BYLINE: This young woman was speaking to me with her hair uncovered. Are women in Iran still required to cover their hair, to wear a headscarf?

HOSSEIN AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN: (Through interpreter) Any given country has its own rules and principles. The hijab in Saudi Arabia, for example, is very special.

KELLY: Of course. But here in Iran, are women still required to wear a headscarf?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN: (Through interpreter) There are regulations in any country around the world, and, of course, if there are regulations in Iran, it's within the legal framework. Women here enjoy a lot of freedoms.

KELLY: But I'm still not clear on what the answer to the question is, because it remains the law. However, we see women all over Tehran walking around with their hair uncovered.

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN: (Through interpreter) Not many women are without headscarves or with their headscarves removed. What they do is act as per their Islamic Iranian cultural heritage. They enjoy extraordinary freedoms, women. In fact, we are one of the strongest democracies in the region.

MARTÍNEZ: This afternoon on All Things Considered, Mary Louise Kelly questions Iran's foreign minister on how free Iranians truly are and the chances for reviving the Iran nuclear deal.

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN: (Through interpreter) There is still time for all JCPOA participants to return to the deal. However, if Americans should like to push forward with the wrong analyses, the window of opportunity will not be open forever. Please be advised that ever since 2015, the Iranian side has not been able to enjoy the benefits anticipated in the JCPOA. And therefore, this window will not be open forever. If need be, we then go to our Plan B. We have numerous options on the table.

MARTÍNEZ: That's the Iranian foreign minister talking to NPR's Mary Louise Kelly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.