Iranian actress apologizes for kiss but blames the man who kissed her


Iranian actress Leila Hatami smiles as she arrives for the screening of the film “Jimmy's Hall” at the Cannes Film Festival in southern France. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images)

The Iranian actress who landed in hot water this week when the president of the Cannes Film Festival kissed her on the cheek has apparently apologized for her action.

Mohammad Rasoul Sadeghi, the director of public relations for Iran’s Cinema Association, issued a statement Friday to Iran’s domestic media that included excerpts of a letter from Leila Hatami to the association explaining the incident in Cannes.

“I am so sorry for hurting the feelings of some people,” she wrote, according to the statement.

Hatami said she regretted any suffering the incident might have caused to Iranians who thought the action was vulgar and obscene. But she blamed the man who kissed her, the festival president, 83-year-old Gilles Jacob, who Hatami wrote, “had forgotten the aforementioned rules, which comes with old age.”

“Although I am embarrassed to give these explanations, I had no choice but to go into details for those who could not understand the inevitable situation that I was stuck in,” she explained in the letter.

Hatami was likely responding to criticisms from officials and hard-line groups who have called for her punishment.

The harshest rebuke has come from a group calling itself the Student Sisters of Hezbollah, which demanded that the superstar actress be flogged. “We, the undersigned, who are a group of Muslim students, 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,” the group said.

The minister of culture and guidance, Ali Jannati, whose office oversees all cultural matters, seemed to take a softer tone, saying that although the incident was unfortunate, it seemed that Hatami had been “caught off guard.”

Jason Rezaian has been The Post’s correspondent in Tehran since 2012. He was previously a freelance writer based in Tehran.
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