Sawyer Answers Questions, Reveals Surprise About Ahmadinejad

Feb. 13, 2007 — -- Diane Sawyer's trip to Iran and exclusive interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has prompted viewers from all over the country to send her questions. On Tuesday's "Good Morning America," she answered some of them.

Question: Is there anything surprising or personal about President Ahmadinejad that we didn't know?

Sawyer: It turns out somebody told me that he cries a lot. He is dramatically sympathetic. So I asked him, "Are you often in tears?"

Ahmadinejad answered Sawyer during their interview, saying:

Yes, that's true. Not overwhelm for Iranians, of course, they are very close to me and I love all Iranians. And anywhere -- when I see people suffering I have the same reaction, and we feel sad for people of Iraq, for the people of Palestine. Anywhere we have war, we feel sad. Even when I see on TV, for example, some Americans, because of tornadoes or a hurricane, they have lost their homes, I become sad.

Because, for us, human beings are respectable, no matter where they are. Human beings are respectable, and they have their own dignity. And all of us should help so that people should lead better lives to live at peace. And to live in peace and brotherhood. In the viewpoint of our religion, all people are respectable, and they must be loved. Regardless of their nationality, ethnicity or religion. This is part of our religious teachings, and we'll live with this religion.

Question: Are there any professions that women are prohibited from pursuing in Iran, and do they get to serve in the military?

Sawyer:They do serve in the military, particularly in the Revolutionary Guard, the fearsome Revolutionary Guard. The only profession we learned that women are barred from serving in is on the nation's high court. They can work in divorce court, but they cannot serve on the high courts in the country. So, they can be in most professions here, for sure.

Question: I've heard from Iranian Americans that the younger generations in Iran are very much against their president's actions and comments. What was your impression of what people truly believe in Iran?

Sawyer: You really do have a sense that the younger people here, first of all, want so much to learn about the rest of the world. They want to explore the world and be a part of the world. They don't like the isolation of Iran and have taken to the streets to say as much.

It is really very moving to see how many people here have questions for you. Whatever they have been told about America, [they] really dream someday to see it for themselves.

Question: When asked why women don't mind wearing [the Hijab head scarf], they said it makes them feel safe. What makes them afraid to go without it?

Sawyer: It's tied to safety in the sense that they are conforming with tradition so they won't get in trouble. And also they're not seeming to be seductive, so it's a form of restraint and chastity.

But I have to tell you about this -- putting [a headscarf] up around my face and walking down the halls. We kept trying to remember, but we're Americans, and I couldn't remember. All these [people] come in, and I don't have it on. All I do is take my coat and throw it over my whole head and head for the elevator. We cannot be taught, it seems.