Iranian actress Leila Hatami Friday apologised for kissing the Cannes film festival’s president on the cheek, an act which angered authorities in the Islamic republic, state news agency IRNA reported.

‘I am so sorry for hurting the feelings of some people,’ she wrote in a letter to Iran’s cinema organisation, cited by IRNA. She underlined her respect for Islamic rules of behaviour in public, but festival president Gilles Jacob, 83, ‘had forgotten the aforementioned rules, which comes with old age. ‘My pre-emptive action of hand shaking was fruitless,’ Hatami wrote, explaining the kiss.

‘Although I am embarrassed to give these explanations, I had no choice but to go into details for those who could not understand the inevitable situation that i was stuck in,’ she said. ‘In my eyes, he is certainly like an old grandfather who was also my host.’ A photograph carried by Iranian media showed Hatami kissing Jacob at the opening of the festival earlier this month, prompting a reprimand.

‘Those who attend intentional events should take heed of the credibility and chastity of Iranians, so that a bad image of Iranian women will not be demonstrated to the world,’ Deputy Culture Minister Hossein Noushabadi said on Sunday. ‘Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence,’ he said.