Monday, 22 February 2016
Award-winning Iranian filmmaker punished for 'insulting sanctities'
An Iranian filmmaker said Monday that an appeals court had sentenced him to a year in prison, reducing his initial sentence of six years over "insulting sanctities" amid an ongoing crackdown on expression in the Islamic Republic.
Keywan Karimi said he will still receive 223 lashes as stipulated in his original sentence. Both Karimi and his lawyer have said the sentence stems from unspecified "video clip" and a documentary film he directed called Writing on the City, which focuses on political graffiti in Iran from its 1979 Islamic Revolution to its contested 2009 election.
Karimi said the appeals court decision was final and could not be appealed.
"I have no intention of leaving the country and shall serve the sentence," he said.
Karimi is perhaps best known by international film critics for his 2013 black-and-white minimalist film, The Adventure of the Married Couple. It played in some 40 film festivals, winning prizes in Spain and Colombia.
His sentencing comes amid a crackdown on expression in the Islamic Republic and a landmark deal with world powers over Iran's contested nuclear program. It also shows the power hard-liners still maintain in the country.
Already, two Iranian poets, Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi, have fled Iran after themselves facing lashings and prison sentences.
In June, a court handed cartoonist Atena Farghadani a 12-year, nine-month sentence in part for depicting Iranian parliament members as animals to criticize a draft law restricting contraception and criminalizing voluntary sterilization, according to Amnesty International.
Others in custody in Iran include human rights activists, artists and journalists.