Iraq: Kissing couple 'face prosecution'

A couple who kissed at a public park in Iraq in protest at arsonists destroying a "Statue of Love" face prosecution, it's reported.

Kurdish photographer Kamaran Najm posted Facebook photos of himself and his Dutch girlfriend on the pedestal where the statue stood in Azadi Park, in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah. The artwork, created by local artist Zahir Sidiq in 2009, had been set alight days earlier. Najm told weekly paper Rudaw: "We only meant to say that love isn't only in a statue for some people to be able to destroy." But the paper quotes the local prosecutor as saying: "The couple should be jailed for acting against public customs."

Iraqi Kurdistan is regarded as less conservative than much of the Middle East, with many women in the workforce and alcohol served in bars and hotels. But Muthana Amin, a professor in Sharia - or Islamic law - tells Rudaw: "A kiss on the lips is a sexual act and shouldn't be done in public." Artists - mostly based in Europe - have begun posting their own pictures of public kisses in support of the couple, says weekly paper Awene.

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