Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s film The Salesman has won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. But Farhadi had boycotted the Oscars in protest of Donald Trump’s travel ban, which had attempted to block arrivals in America from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
In his stead, a proxy—Anousheh Ansari, an astronaut who was the first Iranian in space—delivered a statement that read as follows:
“It is a great honour to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. … I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. 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 U.S. 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.”