Iranian Kurdish director sentenced to six years in prison and 223 lashes for kissing scene

ERBIL, Kurdistan (Rudaw) —Kurdish director Kaiwan Karimi has been sentenced to six years imprisonment by a judge of the 28th branch of Iran’s revolutionary court.

Muhammad Moghise, the judge presiding over the ruling said that Karimi had insulted the scared values and promoted illegitimate relations and contact through kissing.

In addition to the tough prison sentence, he is to receive 223 lashes.

In a rare telephone conversation with Rudaw Karimi, 30 and a native of the Kurdish city of Baneh, rejected the accusations and decried his sentencing.

“I’ve made a film about the government, social conditions, graffiti on the walls and the working class,” he said. “It is for people to judge my films. I don’t know why I should be punished like this.”

Karimi’s lawyer, Amir Raisyan said that the director has been sentenced for an idea and nothing more.

According to Raisyan, Karimi received the harsh sentence for a scene that he intended to film.

“He wanted to film a scene but because he didn’t reach an agreement with the actress it didn’t happen,” Raisyan told Rudaw. “We told the court that the clip wasn’t produced and you can’t punish someone for something that hasn’t happened.”

The idea for the scene is believed to have been recommended by popular Iranian singer Shahin Najafi.

Raisyan added that the court had also used one of Karimi’s previous documentary films titled Diwar (Wall) featuring graffiti against him.

“The film is about the history of wall graffiti and has nothing to do with sacred values or anything,” said Karimi’s lawyer.

Karimi has made a number of award-winning feature films in the last several years, among them “Broken Borders” about the life of Kurdish smugglers on the border between the Kurdistan Region and Iranian Kurdistan.