Absent Iranian director hit by Trump travel ban wins Best Foreign Language Oscar

Asghar Farhadi is from one of the seven countries originally targeted by the US President's now-blocked executive order

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An Iranian director caught up in Donald Trump’s travel ban has won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film – and, in his absence, sent in a powerful speech blasting the “inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.”

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Asghar Farhadi did not attend the ceremony in Los Angeles, but delivered a message via Iranian-American astronaut Anousheh Ansari. 

“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,” she read. “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.”

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After Trump’s so-called Muslim ban came into effect, prohibiting entry to the US for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, Farhadi abandoned plans to travel to the ceremony. The US president’s executive order has since been blocked by US courts but rather than attend the ceremony, Farhadi appeared via video-link from Tehran at a special screening of his film in London’s Trafalgar Square just hours before the Oscars began. 

In his Academy Awards acceptance speech, he continued: “Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear – a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These laws prevent democracy in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. 

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“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.”