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Iranian Filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's Oscar Was Accepted By The First Muslim Woman In Space

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Statement read on behalf of foreign language film winner Asghar Farhadi denounces "inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US"

— ABC News (@ABC) February 27, 2017

When Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Academy Award on Sunday night, he was not there to accept it. The director, who won the Best Foreign Language Film award for the movie The Salesman, declined to attend the ceremony "out of respect for the people of my country," and the citizens of the other six countries affected by President Trump's travel ban. Farhadi was the subject of international headlines in the immediate wake of the ban, which would have prevented him from entering the country to attend the awards ceremony.

Farhadi's absence spoke volumes, as did his choice of surrogates. Two prominent Iranian Americans accepted the Oscar for him, Anousheh Ansari (the first female space tourist!) and Firouz Naderi, a former director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA. Ansari, who was born in Iran and moved to the U.S. as a teenager in 1984, made news in 2006 when she became the first female private space explorer by boarding a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for an eight-day expedition, according to Variety. Variety reports that the she was also the first Iranian and first Muslim woman in space. Here is Ansari in her official NASA photo:

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(Photo courtesy of NASA)
And here's the full transcript of Farhadi's speech, as read by Ansari:

I will be reading a statement by Mr. Farhadi. 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. 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. 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. Thank you on behalf of Mr. Farhadi.

Immediately after the honors, Naderi and Ansari came to the press interview room to answer questions. When asked why Farhadi chose the two of them to represent him, Naderi said that he thought their shared experience with space was what set them apart.

"You know, there are quite a number of prominent Iranian‑Americans here that he could have asked, actors, actresses," Naderi said. "I think the reason [he chose us] is that if you go away from the Earth and look back at the Earth, you don't see any of the borders, any of the lines. You just see one whole beautiful Earth, and I think the reason that he selected the two of us was to basically convey that message.