Iranian actress Leila Hatami was at the Cannes Film Festival in France when she kissed the president of the festival on the cheek.
Kissing on the cheek, widely appreciated as a normal greeting custom in the civilized world, is not allowed in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iranian Deputy Minister of Culture Hoseyn Nushabadi was outraged by the act, saying Hatami committed a “violation of religious beliefs.”
Culture Minister Nushabadi warned that the actress’s radical behavior would no longer be tolerated. He suggested the Ayatollah’s regime may have to reconsider their policies if Iranian celebrities continued to apply western norms to her life. “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,” he said.
Iran moved towards a strict interpretation of Islamic law in 1979 following the fall of the Shah and the installation of an Islamic Republic. In Iran, women are forbidden from all physical contact with a man who is not a family member or her husband.
Hatami also apparently violated Iran’s mandated dress code for women. The BBC’s Sebastian Usher said Hatami’s headscarf was worn in a way that was “unacceptable in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Hatami’s rise to fame came after the film A Separation, where she played the leading role. The film won the 2012 Academy Award for best foreign language film.