In an unexpectedly conciliatory move, last night during the 89th annual Academy Awards, someone manning the U.S. State Department’s official Persian-language Twitter account congratulated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, and the Iranian people, after his film “The Salesman” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
Then they deleted the tweet.
So did rogue State Department staffers use Twitter to send a subtle rebuttal Donald Trump’s way during the Oscars? Or was it a simple mistake?
Farhadi chose not to attend the 2017 Oscars, remaining home in Tehran to protest Donald Trump’s proposed ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Iran. And he made absolutely certain the intent behind his absence was clear in his Oscar acceptance speech, read by Iranian-American scientist Firouz Naderi, who accepted Farhadi’s Oscar on his behalf along with Anousheh Ansari, the first person of Iranian descent in space.
“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. Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear,” Farhadi’s statement said. “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 State Department later said the tweet was deleted because of Farhadi’s statement.
“A congratulatory tweet was posted,” a Department spokeswoman told Reuters. “We later removed the post to avoid any misperception that the USG (U.S. government) endorsed the comments made in the acceptance speech.”
If so, the State Department must not have been paying attention to the news. Farhadi announced his intention to skip the Oscars on Jan 29, shortly after Trump’s ban was enacted via executive order. On Feb 24, Farhadi and all five of his fellow Best Foreign Language Film nominees signed onto a joint statement denouncing both the ban and Trump administration policies.
“On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians,” the statement said. Farhadi, Martin Zandvliet (“Land of Mine,” Denmark), Hannes Holm (“A Man Called Ove,” Sweden), Maren Ade (“Toni Erdmann,” Germany) and Martin Butler & Bentley Dean (“Tanna,” Australia) all signed the statement.
Farhadi wasn’t the only filmmaker the travel ban affected. Cinematographer Khaled Khateeb, who worked on the Oscar-winning short documentary film “White Helmets,” was barred from entering the U.S. “White Helmets” tells the story of Syrian Civil Defense volunteers, who are working to save people placed in danger by civil war in Syria.
See the State Department tweet below.
— ERSHAD ALIJANI (@ErshadAlijani) February 27, 2017