Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi Skips Oscars 2017, Slams President Donald Trump’s Travel Ban in Acceptance Speech for ‘The Salesman’

Though he didn’t attend the 2017 Oscars on Sunday, February 26, in Los Angeles, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi sent a very strong message when his movie The Salesman won Best Foreign Language Film. Farhadi accepted the award in a statement read by Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian woman to travel to outer space. Watch the moment in the clip above and follow all the action from tonight’s ceremony with Us Weekly’s live blog!

“I will be reading a statement by Mr. Farhadi. ‘It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time,’” Ansari, 50, read on behalf of Farhadi, 44 — who didn’t attend the show in protest of President Donald Trump’s travel ban. “’I would like to thank the members of the Academy, my crew in Iran, my producer … Amazon and my fellow nominees. I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.’”

Asghar Farhadi
Asghar Farhadi arrives for the American Cinematheque Panel Discussion. Greg Doherty/Getty Images

As previously reported, Trump, 70, signed an executive order in January temporarily barring refugees and citizens from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., and placing an indefinite ban on refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. Trump also instated a new religious test for refugees, which will presumably give an advantage to Christians and people of other religions over Muslims. The travel ban has since been restrained by a federal appeals court.

“’Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war,’” Ansari continued for Farhadi. “’These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression.’”

She concluded: “’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. Thank you.”

While Farhadi didn’t attend the awards show in protest of Trump’s controversial stance on immigration, Khaled Khateeb, the Syrian cinematographer who worked on the Oscar-nominated film The White Helmets, was barred from attending Sunday night’s event.

According to the Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security blocked Khateeb, 21, who was originally scheduled to attend, from entering the United States after allegedly finding “derogatory information,” a vague term that can include anything from passport irregularities to terror connections. “A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States,” a spokeswoman for the federal agency told the AP about the findings.

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