Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi wasn’t in the Dolby Theater to accept his Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for The Salesman. He wasn’t even in the country. Instead, he chose not to attend over what he called President Trump’s “inhumane” travel ban affecting seven majority Muslim countries.
In a statement read by Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian in space, Farhadi said he wasn’t present to accept his award out of respect for others affected by the ban.
“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 inhuman law that bans entry of immigrants to the US,” Ansari read from Farhadi’s prepared statement.
She continued: “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 are able to use their art to emphasize “shared human qualities and break stereotypes,” fostering “an empathy which we need today more than ever,” she said.
Farhadi has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s embattled ban, which he called an effort to “justify extremist and fanatic behavior.”
You can watch Ansari’s full statement from Farhadi below: