Diehard clerics and lawmakers in Iran are railing against a screenwriter’s comment seen as tolerating male and female partnership without marriage.
Parliament has summoned Culture Minister Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili to explain the remarks made by a screenwriter during the closing ceremony of the Fajr film festival which was to celebrate the victory of the Iranian Islamic revolution in Iran. occasion of his 43rd birthday in mid-February.
In his controversial remarks, Noushin Meraji had timidly defended the relationship between the protagonists of his screenplay who were not married but lived together. Hardliners and religious fundamentalists were quick to cry blasphemy.
In a video posted later, Meraji apologized for her comment.. She said just 10 seconds of her remarks proved controversial as they were made under huge media pressure at a press conference after the screening of the film Namour. [Damp]. She said her comment didn’t mean a romance without marriage was legitimate.
Meraji said in the video that she is a devout Muslim and a family woman and stressed that she was deeply sorry if her comment led to any misunderstanding. But the temptation to trigger an outcry was too great for the fundamentalists to miss the opportunity.
The chairman of the Majles’ cultural committee, hardline cleric Morteza Aaq-Tehrani, however, said he had already told the culture minister that “such an insult” cannot be tolerated by the Majles. It comes as Esmaili explained the matter and apologized in a live interview on state television on Saturday night.
In an interview with the Tasnim news agency, the lawmaker accused the screenwriter of undermining divine laws. Acknowledging that she had apologized, he nevertheless insisted that the minister come to the Majles to give his explanation.
In a separate development, the right-wing Seminary Teachers’ Association in a statement lambasted the screenwriter and criticized the Ministry of Culture and Guidance for the festival’s “un-Islamic vibe” which “undermined the values Islamic wear, including the hijab”.
Later, female seminarians and Basij militiamen issued a separate statement condemning Meraji for his remarks. They said in their statement that “the government should slap the actresses shamelessly for their shameless behavior.” It seems that the seminarians did not know that Meraji was not an actress. According to the statement, “As far as God is concerned, there is no difference between those who commit an evil act and those who advocate such an act.” The statement added that “it is shameful that the festival advocated adultery”.
However, former conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari criticized Meraji’s critics and condemned the controversy surrounding his remarks. Motahari told the Nameh News website: “Almost everyone who criticized Meraji called for punishing her by slapping her in the mouth or in the face. This is not how Muslim scholars should behave.” He called on clerics at the seminary to follow the teachings of his father Ayatollah Mortaza Motahari and respond to controversial statements rationally and come up with their own argument rather than attacking someone for controversial remarks.