On Monday, the U.S. State Department tweeted, and then deleted, a congratulatory message to director Asghar Farhadi, whose film The Salesman won the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language film at the 89th Academy Awards.
The message was shared by the State Department’s official Persian-language Twitter account, @USAdarFarsi, congratulating the Iranian people and Farhadi for his win at Sunday’s ceremony. According to reports, the tweet was posted at 1 A.M. ET, but later deleted.
“A congratulatory tweet was posted,” a State Department spokeswoman said. “We later removed the post to avoid any misperception that the USG (U.S. government) endorsed the comments made in the acceptance speech.”
A second spokesperson stated that the decision to take down the tweet was made within the department.
The Iranian director was not in attendance, instead boycotting the ceremony in protest of Trump’s executive order to temporary ban citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, which was blocked by federal courts.
Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari and former NASA scientist Firouz Naderi, accepted the award on Farhadi’s behalf and read a statement written by the director.
“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.,” read Ansari. “Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which themselves have 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.”
Farhadi recently made appearances via video, including at last week’s UTA rally and this evening’s UK premiere of The Salesman in Trafalgar Square. Ahead of the 2017 Oscars, the six nominated directors in the Foreign-Language category released a joint statement expressing their “emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries.” They stated that whoever won the Academy Award, “we refuse to think in terms of borders.”