Just how repressive is Iranian culture toward women? So repressive that Iranian actress Leila Hatami may be publicly flogged for greeting the Cannes Film Festival president with a kiss on the cheek, according to the Telegraph.
Hatami, an award-winning actress, was photographed Sunday kissing Gilles Jacob, the president of the Cannes Film Festival. The photo sparked outrage at the time among Iranian authorities.
"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," Deputy Culture Minister Hossein Noushabadi said. “Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence.”
The outrage comes from Iran’s interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, which states that a woman may not have physical contact (even a peck on the cheek) with a man not in her family.
But it was a group of university students — with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard — who filed a formal complaint against the actress on Wednesday.
“We, the undersigned, who are a group of student Muslim brothers and sisters, ask the cultural and media branch of the judiciary to prosecute Leyla Hatami for her sinful act of kissing a strange man in public, which according to article 638 of Islamic Criminal Justice carries a prison sentence,” the students wrote, as quoted by the Telegraph.
“Furthermore, the action of this film star has hurt the religious sentiments of the proud and martyrs breeding nation of Iran and as such we also demand the punishment of flogging for her as stipulated in the law,” the students continued.
Hatami was also criticized for wearing a scarf that did not cover the crown of her head.
If convicted of “kissing a strange man,” Hatami could face prison time and a maximum penalty of 50 lashes.