Hardliner clerics and lawmakers in Iran are up in arms for a comment by a screenwriter perceived as condoning male and female partnership without marriage.

The parliament has summoned Culture Minister Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili to offer his explanation about the comments made by a female screenwriter at the closing ceremony of Fajr Film Festival that was meant to celebrate the victory of Iran’s Islamic revolution on its 43rd anniversary in mid-February.

In her controversial comments, Noushin Meraji had shyly defended the relationship between the protagonists in her screenplay who were not married but lived together. Hardliners and fundamentalist clerics were quick to raise the cry of blasphemy.

In a video that was released later, Meraji apologized for her comment. She said only 10 seconds of her remarks turned out to be controversial because it was made under huge media pressure during a news conference after the screening of the movie Namour [Damp]. She said what her comment did not mean that a love affair without a marriage was legitimate.

Meraji said in the video that she is a devoted Muslim and a family woman and stressed that she was deeply sorry if her comment led to a misunderstanding. But the temptation to start an outcry was too great for fundamentalists to miss the opportunity.

The Chairman of the Cultural Committee of the Majles, hardline cleric Morteza Aaq-Tehrani, however, said that he has already told the Culture Minister that “such an insult” cannot be tolerated by the Majles. This comes while Esmaili had explained the matter and apologized in a live interview on the state television Saturday night.

In an interview with Tasnim news agency, the lawmaker accused the screenwriter of undermining divine laws. Acknowledging that she had apologized he still insisted that the Minister should come to the Majles to offer his explanation.

In another development, the right-wing association of seminary teachers in a statement lashed out at the screen writer and criticized the Ministry of Culture and Guidance for the “un-Islamic mood” at the festival which “undermined Islamic values including hijab.”

Later, female seminarians and Basij militia issued a separate statement condemning Meraji for her remarks. They said in their statement that “The government should slap shameless actresses in the face for their shameless behavior.” It appears 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 a bad act and those who advocate such an act.” The statement added that “It is shameful that the festival has advocated adultery.”

However, former conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari criticized Meraji’s critics and condemned the controversy surrounding her remarks. Motahari told Nameh News website: “Nearly all of those who criticized Merajicalled 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 in a rational way and offer their own argument rather than attacking someone for controversial remarks.

Source » iranintl