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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
Iranian actress escapes lashing
Gohar Kheirandish
Gohar Kheirandish apologised for her actions

A well-known Iranian actress has been given a suspended sentence of 74 lashes for kissing a man during an awards ceremony.

Gohar Kheirandish landed in court after kissing director Ali Zamani on the forehead.

She also shook his hand when he was named as best director at a film festival in the city of Yazd.

The action sparked protests because physical contact between unmarried and unrelated men and women is strictly forbidden.

The lashing sentence was suspended after the actress apologised for her behaviour at the event in October 2002, reported the Hambastegi newspaper.

Mr Zamani, who is in his 20s, had been a student of Kheirandish's late husband.

Immediately after the incident Mr Zamani apologised, insisting it was a spontaneous gesture.

Public morality

"She kissed me like a mother kisses her child," Mr Zamani said at the time.

But this did not prevent the head of the local justice department ordering their arrest for disturbing public morality.

Mr Zamani appeared in court but was released on bail of 20 million rials ($2,500).

Their act was seen by religious leaders as an attempt to harm Islam.

Iranian cinema has received high acclaim in recent years at international festivals, but remains subject to restrictions and oppressive laws at home.

Film-maker Tahmineh Milani - known for her liberal, feminist views - was arrested last year for allegedly supporting counter-revolutionary groups.




SEE ALSO:
Iranian artists in trouble over kiss
03 Oct 02  |  Middle East
Web gives a voice to Iranian women
17 Jun 02  |  Science/Nature
Country profile: Iran
03 Mar 03  |  Country profiles
Iran bans film about women's prisons
12 Dec 02  |  Middle East



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