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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 20:59 GMT 21:59 UK
Iranian artists in trouble over kiss
Iranian women
Physical contact between unrelated men and women is banned
A well-known Iranian actress has landed herself and an award-winning young film director in court, for kissing him on the forehead and shaking his hand in public.

Etemad newspaper reported that Gohar Kheirandish made her display of affection last week after Ali Zamani was chosen as best film maker at a film festival in the central city of Yazd.

Iranian actress Gohar Kheirandish
Director Zamani was a student of Ms Kheirandish's late husband
The incident triggered protests in the Islamic republic, where any physical contact between unmarried and unrelated men and women is strictly forbidden.

The two have since apologised for their behaviour, insisting it was a spontaneous gesture.

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

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

Condemnation

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


She kissed me like a mother kisses her child

Ali Zamani
Ms Kheirandish is reportedly returning to Yazd to face the charges.

Etemad said Mr Zamani, who is in his 20s, was a student of the middle-aged Ms Kheirandish's late husband.

Mohsen Talebpour, the local representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, organised protests against the pair and called for legal action.

Conservative newspapers also condemned them.

"Our enemies are trying to harm Islam through our culture and this event is an example of that fact," said an editorial in Ya Lessarat weekly.

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:

17 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
29 Aug 01 | Country profiles
18 Mar 02 | Middle East
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