Iranian actress angers home country over kiss at Cannes film festival

In France, a kiss on the cheek is innocuous and customary. In Iran, it's a violation of Sharia law.
By Aileen Graef  |  May 19, 2014 at 5:08 PM
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TEHRAN, May 19 (UPI) -- Officials in Iran were outraged Sunday after a photograph surfaced of Iranian actress Leila Hatami kissing Cannes film festival president Gilles Jacob on the cheek.

Hatami is a Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear winning actress for her role in the 2011 Iranian drama A Separation. She is a jury member at Cannes this year and was on the red carpet at the famous film festival when she greeted Jacob with a kiss on the cheek.

While a kiss on the cheek is a customary way to greet people in France, it is considered a violation of Sharia law in Iran. According to the strict code, a woman should come on physical contact with only men who are her family. Even though Hatami was not in Iran at the time, the government was still furious.

"I hope that those who attend international arenas as Iranian women would be careful about the chastity and dignity of Iranians so that the image of the Iranian woman is not tainted before the world," said Iranian Deputy Culture Minister Hossein Noushabadi. "If they respect Islamic norms and the national culture and beliefs of Iran, it would be a desirable thing for Iranian celebrities to go abroad, but if their presence lacks regard for social values and ethical criteria, the Iranian nation is not going to accept it."

Hatami has not commented on the Iranian response to her red carpet appearance.

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