Iranian Actress' Kiss on the Cheek at Cannes Sparks Outrage in Tehran

Deputy culture minister denounces Iranian actress' traditional French greeting to film festival head.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Leila Hatami (L) with actress Jeon Do-Yeon (C) and film festival official Thierry Fremaux at Cannes, May 18, 2014. Credit: AFP

The sight of a woman kissing a man on both cheeks at the Cannes Film Festival doesn't seem like big news.

But it was in Iran, reports France 24.

Iranian actress Leila Hatami, a jury member at Cannes, was filmed and photographed greeting festival head Gilles Jacob in the traditional French way on Sunday. Tehran learned of the kiss, and the Islamic republic's deputy culture minister, Hossein Noushabadi, accused Hatami of giving Iranians, especially Iranian women, a bad name.

"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 was quoted as saying on an Iranian state broadcaster's website.

In fact, said the deputy minister, Hatami – who starred in Iran's Oscar-winning film "The Separation" – shouldn't have even shown her face at Cannes.

"[The] Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence," he said, adding that the actress' "inappropriate presence" at the film festival clashed with Iranian religious customs.