It was announced earlier this year that, because of President Donald Trump‘s travel ban, Farhadi would boycott the Academy Awards, even if exceptions were made to allow him entry into the United States. Another prominent Iranian American, engineer Anousheh Ansari, accepted the prize for him and read a prepared statement on stage.
WATCH: Iranian film director boycotts Oscars over Trump’s travel ban
“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,” she read. “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,” she continued. “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.”
The controversy erupted last month, after Trump’s controversial executive order was signed. At the time, the Academy said in a statement that it was “extremely troubling” that Farhadi might be barred entry into the U.S.
WATCH: Absent Iranian director represented by NASA director, former astronaut backstage at Oscars
Earlier in the evening, Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. As he noted in the statement, Farhadi in 2012 won the best foreign-language film award for “A Separation.”