Iran's Foreign Minister Praises Oscar-Winning Director for Ceremony Boycott

Asghar Farhadi screen
Director Asghar Farhadi speaks via a video link at the screening of the film The Salesman in Trafalgar Square in London, U.K., on February 26. Farhadi won the Oscar for best foreign language film, but boycotted the ceremony in protest at U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration policy. Neil Hall/Reuters

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has congratulated filmmaker Asghar Farhadi for his Oscar victory, which he was not present to receive after boycotting the ceremony in protest at U.S. immigration policy.

Farhadi's film The Salesman—which follows a Tehran couple involved in a production of Arthur Miller's play of the same name—won the award for best foreign language film at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles Sunday.

But the director had opted not to attend the ceremony following U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order in January, which temporarily banned immigration to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran. The ban has since been halted by U.S. courts.

Foreign minister Zarif, tweeted Monday: "Proud of cast & crew of 'The Salesman' for Oscar & stance against #MuslimBan. Iranians have represented culture & civilization for millennia."

The immigration ban was characterized by many commentators as a Muslim ban, though Trump denied that it was specifically targeting Muslims and was instead aimed at countries posing a terrorism risk.

Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian to travel to space, delivered an acceptance speech on behalf of Farhadi at the ceremony.

"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.," the speech read.

"Dividing the world into 'us' and 'our enemies' categories creates fear—a deceitful justification for aggression and war."

Farhadi won his country's first Oscar in 2012, in the same category for his film A Separation.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, organized a free public screening of The Salesman in the British capital's Trafalgar Square Sunday evening in an act of solidarity with Farhadi.