by Shima Sharabi
Leila Hatami, the first Iranian woman to sit on the jury of the Cannes film festival, is long practiced in the art of appearing on the international stage without offending hardliners in her home country.
She has never appeared in public without some form of head covering, be it a hat or elegantly arranged headscarf, and has even walked the red carpet of major festivals wearing a simple shaw or manteau-like dress. In Cannes this week she observed the Islamic Republic’s dress code as well, her sleeves reaching her wrists, her collar high, and a shawl over her hair arranged like a hat.
Despite her modest appearance, intended to preserve her ability to act and work freely in Iran, photographs of her greeting the octogenarian festival director Gilles Jacob have sent Iranian conservative politics into a tailspin. Hardline media have roared their disapproval and prominent conservative politicians have joined in.
A few days later, a group of female Iranian students wrote to Tehran’s minister of culture and media, Al Jannati. “We ask actress Leila Hatami be sentenced to one to ten years imprisonment and flogging,” the petition read. “We refer you to article 638 of Islamic Penal Code, which deems punishment for those who commit a sin in public. Leila Hatami, who is a beloved public personality in our Islamic nation, did not observe the proper Islamic attire and intentionally, and with full knowledge of her actions, volunteered to kiss a foreign non-Muslim man.” The group signed the petition the “Student Sisters of Hezbollah.”
Read more: The Daily Beast