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Iranian Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi: ‘my absence is out of respect for the people of my country’

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Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has won his second Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, this time for The Salesman. Farhadi, in protest of President Trump’s executive orders banning travel and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, was not present to accept the award.

In his place, the award was accepted by two Iranian-American scientists: the former head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Firouz Naderi and engineer Anousheh Ansari, who is perhaps best known as the first Iranian astronaut to go to space. Ansari read a statement on behalf of Farhadi, condemning the Muslim ban as “inhumane” and going on to say that "dividing the world into us and our enemies categories creates fear.”

Farhadi’s statement reiterated thoughts he expressed following the January announcement of the executive orders, when The New York Times first reported that he did not plan to attend the awards. Farhadi said he would not attend even if a travel exception were made for him. In a statement at the time, he also said:

To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity. I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations.

The speech was concise, but forceful, and received a standing ovation from the Academy Awards audience.