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Iranian Actress Apologizes for Kiss After Flogging Threat

Iranian film star Leila Hatami apologized for kissing the cheek of the president of the Cannes Film Festival, after activists called for her flogging, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Hatami, 41, starred in the 2012 Academy Award-winning film “A Separation” and was a Cannes jury member this year. She wrote, in a letter addressed to Iran’s Cinema Organization, that she’d told festival organizers she wouldn’t be able to shake hands with or embrace any men at the event.

Gilles Jacob, the French festival’s 83-year-old president, initiated a greeting and she felt compelled to return it, she said.

“Due to his age, he had forgotten about the measures,” she wrote, according to the news service. “He is obviously elderly and I consider his status to be like that of a grandfather.”

The Sisters of Hezbollah Students Group on May 21 filed a complaint with Iran’s judiciary against Hatami’s “unacceptable” behavior, calling for her to be flogged when she returned home, according to the Yalasarat news website.

Hatami wrote that she was “ashamed.”

“I am very sorry for having hurt anyone’s feelings,” Hatami wrote, according to IRNA.

To contact the reporter on this story: Golnar Motevalli in Tehran at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at Bernard Kohn, Sylvia Wier

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