Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won his second Academy Award on Sunday night for his film “The Salesman,” but another took the stage to accept his Oscar.
Following President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking millions of people from several Muslim-majority countries, Farhadi, among others, decided not to attend the ceremony in solidarity with immigrants and refugees.
When presenters Charlize Theron and Shirley MacLaine announced the win for “The Salesman” during the 89th annual Academy Awards, Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari, who also happens to be the first Iranian to go into space, accepted the award on Farhadi’s behalf.
“It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the Academy, my crew in Iran, my producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Cohen Media, Amazon and my fellow nominees in the foreign film category,” she said, reading a statement from Farhadi. “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 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,” she continued. “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.”
Watch the entire speech below.