Man sentenced to prison and 223 lashes for criticising Islam

Iranian President Hassan RouhaniReuters

An Iranian film-maker sentenced to six years in prison and 223 lashes for criticising Islam has received support from a number of European politicians.

Keywan Karimi, a 30-year-old filmmaker of Kurdish origin, was sentenced by the Islamic Revolutionary Court for "insutling religious sanctities" in his films, "propagating against the ruling system" and "illicit relations" for shaking hands with a women to whom he was not related.

A petition was launched by Stelios Kouloglou, a Greek member of the European parliament (MEP) to support Karimi and 45 other MEPs co-signed the petition.

Addressed to the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, it demanded the punishment be cancelled.

"We do not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran," the peitition read, "but your country has also ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (and the United Nations Covenant - International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966).

"This condemnation is in total contradiction with the Charter and therefore the international obligations of your country, both in terms of freedom of expression, as well as in terms of respect for human dignity and the physical and moral integrity of all human beings."

"That's why we ask you to act immediately in the exercise of your duties so that this punishment is cancelled.

"We demand the lifting of all legal constraints and restrictions against Keywan Karimi to ensure his full freedom of movement and freedom of expression in accordance with international law and international conventions ratified by your country."

Three MEPs from the United Kingdom signed the petition, Jean Lambert from the Green Party as well as Ian Duncan and Emma McClarkin from the Conservatives.