A campaign to have Iranian actress Leila Hatami publicly flogged has been filed by radical students in her home country of Iran.
Hatami, who is best known for starring in the Oscar-winning "A Separation," received a peck on the cheek from Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob at the opening-night premiere of "Grace of Monoco" last Wednesday evening. Following the event, radical Hizbullah Students, a group of university students with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, filed a complaint against the actress and called for her to be flogged.
According to the Telegraph, the petition reads: "We, the undersigned, who are a group of student Muslim brothers and sisters, ask the cultural and media branch of the judiciary to prosecute Leila 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. 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."
Under Sharia Law article 638 of the criminal code, unrelated men and women are not allowed to touch or kiss each other in public. The maximum sentence the offense can incur is 50 lashes.
According to IBT, Iran's Deputy Culture Minister Hossein Noushabadi said the act undermined the image of Iranian women's chastity.
"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," he said. "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."
Jacob called the outrage "baseless" and tried to downplay the incident. "I kissed Mrs. Hatami on the cheek," he said. "At that moment, for me she represented all Iranian cinema, then she became herself again."
Hatami is attending the Cannes Film Festival as one of five female members of the Palme d'Or Jury. She is the daughter of Irani director Ali Hatami and burst onto the Western cinema scene after Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation" won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.