Iranian actress Leila Hatami's kiss at the Cannes Film Festival Sunday sparked outrage among conservatives in Iran and earned her a public Islamic rebuke.
The 41-year-old award-winning Iranian actress gave a left-cheek, right-cheek European style kiss to 83-year-old French director Gilles Jacob, who also happens to be president of the Cannes Film Festival, as she met him on the red carpet.
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The image of one of the Islamic Republic's best-known film stars publicly kissing a man who was not her husband met with a swift rebuke from Hossein Noushabadi, Iran's deputy culture minister, who characterized the embrace as "offensive."
"Those who attend intentional 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," Noushabadi said in a statement, according to the state broadcast service, IRIB, The Christian Science Monitor reported
"[The] Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence," Noushabadi continued, adding that Hatami's "inappropriate presence" at the festival was "not in line with our religious beliefs".
Seeing the firestorm his cheek-to-cheek kiss caused, the French director was quick to assume the blame for the embrace, writing on Twitter, "It was me who gave a kiss to Madame Hatami. At that moment, she represented to me all of Iranian cinema. … This controversy based on a normal Western custom is baseless."
Hatami, who is married and has two children, was selected to serve on a jury at the Cannes Film Festival. The actress has apparently yet to publicly address the controversy.
Several Hatami supporters have since taken to social media sites in defense of the actress, comparing her greeting the French director to former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comforting Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez's wife
Elena Frias at his funeral ceremony.
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