Iranian Oscar contender:
I'll boycott awards over Trump's 'racist' visa ban
Saeed Kamali Dehghan, theguardian.com
Friday 27 January 2017
The lead actor in an Iranian drama nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign language film category has said she will boycott this year’s ceremony over Donald Trump’s expected decision to impose visa bans on Iranians.
Taraneh Alidoosti, who takes a central role in Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman about a couple whose relationship is thrown into disarray after an intruder surprises her in the shower, said she considered the blanket ban on her fellow countrymen to be racist.
|Taraneh Alidoosti with co-star Shahab Hosseini and director Asghar Farhadi on the red carpet in Cannes. Photograph: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images|
She would boycott the awards ceremony, the actor said, even if she was excluded from the ban – despite it being the first time she has qualified to attend.
“Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist,” she tweeted. “Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won’t attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest.”
Restrictions on all Iranian nationals entering the US are part of Donald Trump’s expected new measures against seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The bans have not yet been confirmed but a draft executive order obtained by journalists on 25 January showed a decision was imminent.
Alidoosti recently starred in a popular Iranian online TV series set in the 1950s which has echoes in politics today. Shahrzad, the most expensive production of its kind in Iran, brought Iranian lifestyle under the late Shah to the screen, depicting snooker clubs, women and men partying together, cabarets and drinking alcohol.
The reports about the visa bans have prompted outrage in Iran, dominating newspaper front pages in Tehran and drawing huge reactions online. Iranians describe the measures as discriminatory and observers warn that they could alienate ordinary Iranians, who are among the most pro-American people in the Middle East.
On 24 January, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) said in a statement that it was against a blanket ban based on nation of origin. “Even if this were the right approach, it is notable that the list doesn’t include Saudi Arabia and would have done nothing to prevent 9/11 or the other terrorist attacks committed by radical Wahhabi jihadists in the US. But it does include Iran – from which no national has committed a terrorist act in America.”
NIAC condemned the move and said: “This is dangerous, as it pits Americans against Americans while undermining the very principles of inclusivity and tolerance that define America. We will not be silent, and will use every resource at our disposal to fight these shameful actions and protect the values and people who make America great.”
By announcing the new restrictions, President Trump would be implementing the “most shameful and discriminatory promises he made on the campaign trail”, NIAC said, before adding: “We never imagined the US would become a country that bars its doors and formally condones xenophobia.”
Other Iranian voices have weighed in. Ahmad Sadri, Iranian-American professor of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College, in Illinois, asked: “How many Muslims countries where Mr Trump owns a tower or a golf course are on his list?”
Sadri said: “From this day forward, Islamophobia is no longer a mere racist sentiment in America. Today, discrimination against Muslims is [becoming] a legally enforced government policy. The cover is, of course, counterterrorism. Mr Trump says he is worried about ‘radical Islamic terror’. One would believe that if one would [also] believe that Nazis denouncing ‘Jewish bankers’ they were talking about finance.”
Sadri added: “Why are some affluent and friendly Muslim countries (most tainted by the scourge of terrorism) exempted from this ban? Is the exclusion a matter of political convenience, as in the past? Or does it have to do with the president’s financial empire?”
Farhadi, who directed Alidoosti in The Salesman, is one of Iran’s best-known film-makers. His 2012 film A Separation won the best foreign language Oscar, becoming the first movie ever to take an Academy Award to Iran, which prompted nationwide celebrations.
Farhadi, who has not yet commented on whether he would attend this year’s ceremony, used his Oscar speech in 2012 to protest against measures that isolated Iran, saying: “At the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.”