Actress could be flogged for peck on cheek

Actress could be flogged for peck on cheek
Iranian actress and member of the Feature films Jury, Leila Hatami poses as she arrives for the screening of the film "Jimmy's Hall" at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 22, 2014.

Iranian actress Leila Hatami is facing a call for her to be publicly flogged over a peck on the cheek.

She was photographed with Mr Giles Jacob, 83, at an event last week, UK daily The Independent reported.

Mr Jacob is the president of Cannes Film Festival, where Ms Hatami is on the jury.

In the Iranian interpretation of syariah law, a woman is not allowed to have any physical contact with a man outside of her own family.

According to the Tasnim news website, the Hizbullah Students organisation has filed a complaint with the judiciary demanding that Ms Hatami be punished. The maximum sentence is 50 lashes.

Mr Jacob defended the kiss as "a usual custom in the West".

He tweeted: "I kissed Mrs Hatami on the cheek. At that moment, for me she represented all Iranian cinema."

Ms Hatami acted in Oscar-winning film A Separation, by Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi.

She has since apologised for sparking off the furore, saying in a letter that she was sorry for "hurting the feelings of some people" and underlined her respect for Islamic rules on public behaviour.

Meanwhile, UN rights experts voiced outrage at a Sudanese court order to hang a pregnant woman for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. She is due to be hanged after she gives birth.

She was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother and is married to an American who is a Christian.

Ms Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, is eight months pregnant with her second child and is in prison with her 20-month-old son.

Syariah law has been in force in Sudan since 1983. It makes conversions of faith punishable by death.

This article was first published on May 25, 2014.
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