Iranian director Asghar Farhadi condemns Donald Trump's 'Muslim ban' in powerful Oscars acceptance speech

Director of best foreign language film The Salesman accuses US president of 'dividing the world into the "us" and "our enemies" categories' to create 'fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war'

Charlotte England
Monday 27 February 2017 11:06
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The Iranian director of an Oscar-winning film, who refused to attend the awards ceremony, has condemned Donald Trump's "inhumane" travel ban in a powerful acceptance speech.

In the speech, read on his behalf at the awards in Los Angeles last night, filmmaker Asghar Farhadi said his absence was “out of respect" for people from Iran and the six other Muslim-majority countries affected by the president's ban, which even bars refugees from entering America.

Mr Farhadi, whose film The Salesman won the best foreign language Oscar, accused the US president of “dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories”.

His speech was read by Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari, who became the first Iranian in space in 2006 when she paid to fly to the International Space Station.

Firouz Naderi, a former Nasa director and fellow Iranian, stood beside her in solidarity as she collected the award.

Mr Trump’s executive order on immigration, which he signed last month, barred immigrants and refugees from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the United States. The directive was halted earlier this month after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order.

The Salesman, which premiered at Cannes last May, follows a couple in Tehran involved in an amateur dramatic production of Arthur Miller’s play of the same name, who are forced to move apartments following an earthquake.

The award last night was Mr Farhadi's second best foreign language Oscar, he also won with his film A Separation in 2012.

Here’s Mr Farhadi's speech in full: “It’s a great honour to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the Academy, my crew in Iran, my producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Cohen media, Amazon, and my fellow nominees in the foreign film category. I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people in my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.

"Dividing the world into the 'us' and 'our enemies' categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between “us” and “others,” an empathy which we need today more than ever. Thank you on behalf of Mr Farhadi."

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