Farhadi’s Salesman wins Oscar for best foreign-language film

Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:6PM


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Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman has won the 2017 Academy Award for best foreign-language film.

The award was accepted by two prominent Iranian-Americans representing Farhadi, who boycotted the Oscars over US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning visitors from seven Muslim countries. Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian space tourist, read out a statement by Farhadi.

“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 US,” Ansari said. “Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war.”

Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian space tourist, and Firouz Naderi, a former director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA, represent Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman in the 89th Academy Awards.

Before the Oscar ceremony on Sunday, The Salesman, was screened in London’s Trafalgar Square thanks to the request of London Mayor Sadiq Khan who referred to the ban as “cruel” and “shameful.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, gives a speech at the public screening of the film ‘The Salesman’ by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi in Trafalgar Square in central London on February 26, 2017. 

“At a time when people are talking about travel bans, I want to welcome people…At a time when people are motivating communities to divide, I want to unite them,” he added.

Crowds gather in Trafalgar Square for the public screening for the film ‘The Salesman’ in central London on February 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Last month, Farhadi said that he would not take part in the awards, even after receiving special permission to attend. He has announced that Ansari, famed for being the first female space tourist, and Firouz Naderi, a former director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA, will be his representatives at this year’s Academy Awards.

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According to Khan’s office, around 10,000 people took part in the screening, which was also the film’s UK premiere.

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi speaks in a recorded video message during the public screening for the film ‘The Salesman’ in Trafalgar Square in central London on February 26, 2017. 

“Despite our different religions, nationalities and cultures, we are all citizens of the world. I’m very proud to be a member of this global family. I’m sorry not I’m not able to be here with you but I will be there in spirit,” said Farhadi in a recorded message played at the beginning of the film.

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On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also took to Twitter to praise the cast and crew of The Salesman for choosing not to attend the event in person to protest Trump’s insulting Muslim ban.

The Salesman has already won two awards at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival last May and was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award among several other nationwide and universal recognitions.

Farhadi won Iran’s first-ever Academy Award with domestic drama A Separation in the 2012 Oscars.

Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:10AM
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives to delivers a speech during the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 27, 2017 in Geneva. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives to delivers a speech during the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 27, 2017 in Geneva. (Photo by AFP)

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has warned all foreign countries against relocating their respective embassies in Israel from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem al-Quds, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas made the remarks in an address to the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Monday.

Campaigning for US elections, Donald Trump vowed to move the American Embassy to East al-Quds in a sign of recognition of the city as the capital of an Israeli “state.”

This is while Palestinians want the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, as part of a future Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital.

“We call for the establishment of a system, which would guarantee the independence of the Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its capital, within the boundaries of the 4th of June, 1967,” Abbas asserted, referring to the precise date when Israel staged the occupation.

“We reiterate our appeal for an international protection regime for the Palestinian people,” he added.

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 ‘Israeli land theft’

The Israeli parliament on February 6 rubber-stamped the so-called “Legalization Bill,” which retroactively legalized structures built on Palestinian land.

The move came barely two months after the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution declaring that settlement construction “constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres blasted the ratification of the bill, emphasizing that it would “have far-reaching legal consequences for Israel.” A chorus of outcry also followed from elsewhere, including the German government.

Abbas touched on the land grab law, saying, “Israel has recently announced its intent to create more occupation units over our land. It has adopted a law, which legitimates the theft of occupied Palestinian land, in particular private lands.”

“This is a dangerous precedent, which we reject. The international community rejects it as well. This is a situation that does not allow our people to establish their own state. This is an act, which leads to hatred and violence.”

He asserted that Tel Aviv was thus moving towards the creation of an “apartheid solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Palestinian leader’s appeal to the UNHCR came as the Trump administration has mulled quitting the rights body over its purported bias against Israel, Politico reported on Saturday.

Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:6AM
Human Rights Watch has criticized US President Donald Trump for what it calls his campaign of intimidation against his critics.
Human Rights Watch has criticized US President Donald Trump for what it calls his campaign of intimidation against his critics.

A prominent US human rights group has criticized President Donald Trump for his campaign to “discredit, harass, and intimidate” his critics, comparing the new American leader to “demagogues in other countries.”

“It’s now clear that one of Donald Trump’s top priorities as president is to discredit, harass, and intimidate his critics, or anyone who exposes how his administration is working.” New-York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Sunday.

“Demagogues in other countries regularly use such tactics to silence critics and restrict the media’s ability to inform the public,” said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, co-director of the US Program at HRW.

“Too often they have paved the road to even greater assaults on rights and democracy. Ultimately, the country as a whole, regardless of party affiliation, will lose if it continues,” she said in a statement on the rights group’s website.

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Trump has repeatedly attacked media organizations since coming into office, accusing some news outlets of spreading “fake news.”

Following his inauguration, he declared a “running war with the media” and blasted journalists for their coverage of the size of his inaugural crowds.

On Friday, several news organizations, including CNN, the New York Times and the BBC were barred from a White House press briefing.

“Trump has said his criticism of the media is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. But there is a difference between protected speech and threats, intimidation, retaliation, and smear campaigns backed up by the power of the presidency,” Sánchez-Moreno said.

“In human rights terms, while government leaders have a right to free expression, they also have a duty to protect it—including for critical media—to secure the public’s right to information,” she added.

In a Twitter message posted earlier this month, the new president called a number of news organizations the “enemy of the American people,” an extraordinary rebuke of the press.

Historians have pointed out similarities between Trump and former US President Richard Nixon, who in 1972 told his national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, “The press is the enemy.”

“Donald Trump is demonstrating an authoritarian attitude and inclination that shows no understanding of the role of the free press,” said Carl Bernstein, the journalist who helped uncover the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration.

Trump’s language “may be more insidious and dangerous than Richard Nixon’s attacks on the press,” Bernstein said.


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