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Iran

Iranian Actress Breaks Taboos, Sparks Scandal By Posing Topless

Golshifteh Farahani has sparked controversy in Iran after briefly appearing topless for an artistic photo and video project.
Golshifteh Farahani has sparked controversy in Iran after briefly appearing topless for an artistic photo and video project.
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By Golnaz Esfandiari
An Iranian actress living in Paris has been praised for her courage and criticized for her indecency after posing topless for a French magazine and posting the photo on her Facebook page.

Golshifteh Farahani, who moved to France last year, says Iranian authorities have told her not to return home.

"I was told by a Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guide official that Iran does not need any actors or artists and you may offer your artistic services somewhere else," numerous media outlets quoted her as saying.

The scandal erupted when Farahani, who appeared with Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2008 Hollywood film "Body of Lies," posed for topless photos and a video for the French Magazine "Madame Le Figaro" as part of a project by director Jean-Baptiste Mondino. The project features actors and actresses disrobing to promote both themselves and the notion of bodily and artistic freedom.

In the photo, Farahani, wearing only a ring, gazes mysteriously into the eyes of the viewer while delicately covering her breasts with her hands. 

In the video, she appears alongside a number of French actors and actresses and uncovers one of her breasts.

The photo and video, which was quickly subtitled in Persian, were widely shared among Iranians on social media sites.

Heated Debate

They have generated a heated debate about personal freedom, women's rights, and the restrictions women face in Iran, where the Islamic regime subjects them to strict dress codes and many men view them as their personal property.

"The first thing I said when I saw the picture was, 'Bravo, Golshifteh!" said Maryam Mirza, an Iranian journalist living in Germany. "By posing nude, she demonstrated that her body belongs to her. We’ve been suppressed for many years -- the morality police have been telling us for years how to get dressed and how to behave. But a woman came and said, 'This is my right.'"

On Farahani's Facebook page, where she posted the photo on January 17, some praised her for having "the courage to remove a taboo among women in Muslim countries."

Others were less kind.

"You make me sick; you sold your country and your body. It is such a shame for an Iranian woman," one man wrote.

The semi-official Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the hard-line Revolutionary Guards Corps, accused Farahani of “obscenity” and selling her "chastity" to get attention.

"The fate of an actress, who left her country and joined Hollywood, has been nothing but immorality," Fars wrote.

Even some Iranians who are sympathetic to Farahani's actions say the deeply conservative country may not be ready for such a move.

"You see, even among the upper middle class and intellectuals, men tell their wives not to wear this or that because it is too revealing," an unidentified woman in Tehran told RFE/RL in an e-mail. "Posing nude, even for artistic [purposes], might be difficult to digest for many."
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
January 19, 2012 16:47
She is beautiful inside and outside. She can pose nude if she wants to. It’s nobody’s business. Really!
Men in Iran, including religious and government officials, who practice culturally sanctioned sexual double standard from top to bottom, should stop lecturing and moralizing and learn to respect her wishes. In another word, they should keep their mouth shut. That includes the Iranian newspapers who selfishly criticize her. She is a grown woman! She can do what she wants!

by: tooradj from: Washington dc
January 19, 2012 20:10
To me people talk negative language or bad comment about this pretty angle, must be very jalous.I think someone before say something about anyone, better first clean own shit. It mean none off our business to talk about beautiful actress.

by: Tom from: New York
January 19, 2012 20:13
Of course it's difficult for a country to "accept" the notion of a woman nude--gosh, that's the way we're born, isn't it?

It proves that Iran is living in the "stone ages," despite the fact that it has many modern accoutrements of civilization and even an advanced military. Yes, backwars comes immediatly to mind, so does provincial. The breast is part of the human anatomy and nothing to be ashamed of, really! Shame on those who would criticize her artistic and personal freedoms.

And somehow murdering someone for supporting "peaceful" protests in Iran is somehow ok but baring one's breast is not? What sort of sick joke is that?
In Response

by: Irandokht from: world
January 22, 2012 10:08
Backwards and provincial? While I admire Golshifteh I am offended by your comment particularly at a time when your own media is full of the loonies running for the GOP spot. Imagine that in the year 2012 the bastion of freedom is actually voting based on abolishing abortion, taking away the rights of homosexuals and taking medical care away from the masses. Real proud moment for you all I'm sure. Fix your own backyard before you worry about ours.

by: Anonymous
January 20, 2012 01:17
What a joke!! Go to any Porn site and type in Iran and it will be loaded with Iranian woman doing a lot more than posing topless.

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
January 20, 2012 18:24
Golshifteh's modest naked chest, is a symbol of Iranian women rebelling. I am proud of her! I am also proud of many smart educated Iranian women who think like her. She has opened the flood gates. Thy can no longer be stopped.

by: Sey from: World
January 20, 2012 23:42
There is no way this is the most viewed article on RFE/RL and there's only 5 posts. I made one a few days ago, why isn't on this site? Is it because it was considered offensive or rude? I recall using stronger language on other of my posts.

Only the ones making positive statements appear, huh? How do you call that? Censorship? I guess we've got no freedom of speech, not even on this site.

There has to be more comments on this article, dozens more. And I'm almost sure the majority of them will not be supportive nor conciliatory with Iranian women or any women whatsoever getting rid of her decency and good name for the sake of "protesting for human rights" when the only name for posing for nude pictures on magazines is called "being a *****".

There, I censored it for you. I if it is the W word which bothers you, then censor it, not the whole message.

Now I am asking for respect to freedom of speech.
In Response

by: Moderator
January 21, 2012 10:01
We would ask that people posting comments refrain from using offensive and demeaning terms that do nothing to further the debate. We welcome heated discussion but not at the cost of civility. RFE/RL WebTeam
In Response

by: Sey from: World
January 21, 2012 11:15
I understand and I agree. In every one of the posts I've made here, I've always sought to remain educated and never use demeaning language.

But as I said, I recall using the same word, the W word, in other article, you can watch it here, it's the first one:
http://www.rferl.org/content/egypts_naked_blogger_calls_on_men_to_don_hijab/24400859.html

And there was whatsoever no problem in the staff publishing it. It just seems odd to me that in this article specially, where it was almost expected to have a whole lot of comments and a heated discussion, there's only 5, all representing one side of the spectrum, my second and your response.

Thank you, as always.

by: human from: earth
January 22, 2012 19:06
Another irrational outburst of secular hedonism, the more naked you are, the "freer" you are. Sexualization of women and turning them primarily into sexual objects is what oppresses women today. If this is how the West aims to "liberate" Muslim women, they have failed without even starting.


by: Shirin from: Sydney
January 27, 2012 02:46
I admire her action.
this shows how brave are Persian girls and how much they are different.

by: Raffi from: Yerevan
February 15, 2012 03:30
What is the big deal about nudity? Why do some people care so much about it to this day?

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