TEHRAN – Iranian actress Leila Hatami on Sunday angered authorities in Tehran by kissing the Cannes film festival’s president on the cheek, an act seen as affront to the “chastity” of the Islamic republic’s women.
A photograph carried by Iranian media shows Hatami kissing Gilles Jacob at the opening of this year’s festival.
“Those who attend international events should take heed of the credibility and chastity of Iranians, so that a bad image of Iranian women will not be demonstrated to the world,” Deputy Culture Minister Hossein Noushabadi said, quoted by the website of state broadcaster IRIB.
“Iranian woman are the symbol of chastity and innocence,” he said. Hatami’s “inappropriate presence” at the festival was “not in line with our religious beliefs.”
Born into a family with a background in cinema, Hatami gained worldwide fame for her role in Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation,” which won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
She is on the jury this year at the annual Cannes festival in southern France but lives in Iran.
According to Iran’s interpretation of Islamic (sharia) law, in place since the 1979 revolution, a woman is not allowed to have physical contact with a man outside her family.