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Iranian Oscar winner to boycott ceremony over "unjust" travel ban

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Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi will boycott this year's ceremony in protest at US President Donald Trump's "unjust" ban on people from his country - Iran - and six others.

[DUBAI] Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi will boycott this year's ceremony in protest at US President Donald Trump's "unjust" ban on people from his country - Iran - and six others.

Announcing his decision, the director, who won the 2012 best foreign language film award for A Separation and is nominated again this year, compared the Trump administration to Iranian hardliners as both use the fear of outsiders "to justify extremist and fanatic behaviour by narrow-minded individuals".

"Hardliners, despite their nationalities, political arguments and wars, regard and understand the world in very much the same way," Farhadi said in a statement, published by The New York Times and some Iranian media.

"In order to understand the world, they have no choice but to regard it via an 'us and them' ... This is not just limited to the United States; in my country hardliners are the same," he said, announcing he would not attend the Oscars even if he were given special permission to travel.

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Mr Trump imposed a temporary travel ban on citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen as a first step in a policy he says will keep terrorists from entering the United States.

Taraneh Alidoosti, the female lead of Farhadi's The Salesman, which is nominated for this year's foreign language Oscar, has already announced she would boycott the ceremony in protest at Mr Trump's "racist" travel ban.

Some of Britain's leading actors, directors and producers, including Julie Christie, Kevin Macdonald, Keira Knightley and Terry Gilliam, have asked for permission to hold a screening of The Salesman outside the US embassy in London on Academy Awards night.

"We wish to hold an event in solidarity with Mr Farhadi himself, but crucially, with the many thousands of innocent people who will now be negatively impacted and harmed by a policy of outright discrimination such as this," the filmmakers said in a letter published by The Guardian newspaper on Monday.

Farhadi is unpopular with Iranian hardliners who criticised A Separation as it illustrated gender inequality in Iran and the desire by many Iranians to leave the country.

Sociologist Ebrahim Fayyaz was quoted in Iranian media calling it "the worst Iranian film ever" as it was incompatible with Islamic morality and the ideal of defying the West.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences called Mr Trump's travel ban "extremely troubling" after noticing that Farhadi and his cast and crew could be barred.

"The Academy celebrates achievement in the art of filmmaking, which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic or religious differences," it said on Saturday.

REUTERS

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