Iranian director to skip Oscars over Trump's travel ban
Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi said on Sunday he would not attend next month's Academy Awards, comparing President Donald Trump's visa ban on seven Muslim countries to the actions of hardliners in his own country.
Farhadi, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for "The Salesman", said in a statement carried by Iranian news agencies that he had initially planned to attend the ceremony in Los Angeles, but had been forced to change his mind.
Trump signed an executive order on Friday prohibiting entry to the United States to all nationals of seven Muslim-majority states - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
"I neither had the intention to not attend nor did I want to boycott the event as a show of objection, for I know that many in the American film industry and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are opposed to the fanaticism and extremism which are today taking place more than ever," Farhadi said in his statement, which also was published on Sunday in the New York Times, among other major newspapers around the world.
"However, it now seems that the possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip."
He said hardliners in both Iran and the United States acted with the same mentality.
"For years on both sides of the ocean, groups of hardliners have tried to present to their people unrealistic and fearful images of various nations and cultures in order to turn their differences into disagreements, their disagreements into enmities and their enmities into fears.
"Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behaviour by narrow-minded individuals," he said.
He went on to condemn the "unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries," and expressed "hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations."
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had expressed on Saturday that Farhadi and his cast may not be permitted to attend the Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles, calling it "extremely troubling".
On Thursday, Farhadi's lead actress Taraneh Alidoosti announced that she would boycott the awards over Trump's "racist" visa ban, whether allowed to attend or not.
In 2012, Farhadi became the first Iranian to win an Oscar for his film "A Separation".