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Acclaimed Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani's naked photo have rekindled the debate surrounding nude activism.

Published in a French magazine and posted online, the photo rapidly became viral on the web, prompting thousands of reactions - for and against.

With the approach of parliamentary elections, the Iranian government, so far unscathed by Arab Spring protests, has tightened restrictions against the media, arresting journalists or anyone seen as potentially being too "Western" or "un-Islamic".

Soon after Farahani's pictures were posted she told the Telegraph she had been told by government officials not to return to Iran.

Links between Farahani and the Egyptian nude blogger, Aliaa Magda Emahdy, who stirred a controversy in the Arab world by posting nude pictures of herself on Twitter in protest against Islamism, have already been established.

Emahdy became an instant hit and many activists supported her calls for human and women's rights.

Rights activist and journalist Maryam Namazie made a calendar of activists' nude pictures "in order to raise our screams against misogyny and Islamism and for free expression and women's rights" and the 20-year-old Egyptian was soon emulated by a plethora of other bloggers and activists.

Farahani's latest move, however, was not part of a political campaign but simply a video and photo-shoot along with 30 other actors to mark their nominations for a French film award ceremony.

Interviewed by the French magazine Le Point, sociologist Azadeh Kian, the author Iran: A movement without a revolution ?, said: " Golshifteh Farahani can do whatever she wants with her body, especially as she did it in France. However, if it is a political message, it does not serve the cause of women in Iran.

"It could even end up being counter-productive if the authorities use it to justify their 'morally-prescribed policies'."