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Iran's 'The Salesman' wins Oscar, director absent in protest

Engineer/astronaut Anousheh Ansari and former NASA scientist Firouz Naderi accept Best Foreign Language Film for 'The Salesman' on behalf of director Asghar Farhadi onstage with actors Shirley MacLaine and Charlize Theron during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center. (AFP/Getty)


Iranian film "The Salesman" on Sunday won the Oscar for best foreign language film, with director Asghar Farhadi skipping the Hollywood gala in protest at a travel ban by US President Donald Trump.

In a statement read in his name, Farhadi said he was staying away in solidarity as people had been "disrespected" by Trump's policy, which is currently on hold after a decision by a federal appeals court.

Farhadi - whose film "A Separation" won the best foreign film Oscar in 2012 - instead organized a free screening of "The Salesman" for thousands of fans in London's Trafalgar Square.

"Dividing the world into the US and 'our enemies' categories creates fear - a deceitful justification for aggression and war," he said in the statement read at the Hollywood gala by the Iranian-born US engineer and astronaut Anousheh Ansari.

"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."

Soon after taking office last month, Trump banned entry to the United States from people of seven Muslim-majority countries including Iran, triggering protests and prompt appeals to the courts.

Iran has had a tense relationship with Washington since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, although there have been no attacks inside the United States attributed to Iranians.