President Donald Trump‘s “Muslim Ban” enacted on Friday could prevent Iranian director Asghar Farhadi from attending this year’s Oscars — where his film, The Salesman, is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.
On Friday, the president signed an executive order that temporarily bans any refugees from entering the U.S., indefinitely bans refugees who hail from Syria and temporarily banning citizens from several Muslim countries from entering the U.S., according to the New York Times. The president also said in the order that Christians and other minority religions from Muslim countries should be given preferential treatment when entering the U.S. over Muslims.
Titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” the order closes the nation’s borders for four-months. For 90 days, visas will also not be issued to nationals from several Muslim countries — Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Farhadi’s native Iran. This ban would apply to anyone from those countries visiting the U.S., not just people seeking asylum or looking to immigrate.
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“We don’t want them here,” Trump said while signing the order at the Pentagon. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country, and love deeply our people.”
On Saturday, reports began surfacing that because of the ban, Oscar-winning Iranian director Farhadi, 44, wouldn’t be able to attend this year’s Academy Awards. Actor Jamie Bell was one of the first celebrities to comment on the reports.
(Trita Parsi later told the New York Times that he only heard second-hand about Farhadi’s ban and didn’t know for sure if it would affect him attending the Oscars.)
It is unclear if Farhadi was planning on attending the Academy Awards this year or if he was planning on re-entering the United States ahead of the ceremony. He has been doing award season press for The Salesman in the United States. In January he attended a panel discussion in Hollywood about best foreign language film nominees for the Golden Globes. He’s no stranger to the award season circuit — he attended the 2012 Oscars where he took home the statue for his critically acclaimed film, A Separation.
A White House source tells PEOPLE that Farhadi would qualify for a waiver to allow him to enter the U.S. and attend the award ceremony, but provided no further details on what that waiver may be. Farhadi’s reps and studio reps for The Salesman did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
PEOPLE reached out to the State Department for clarification on the new ban and how it would affect the filmmaker, but they said they could not comment on individual cases.
A spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which puts on the Oscars, defended their nominee and the Iranian cast and crew.
“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,” an Academy spokesperson said in a statement. “As supporters of filmmakers—and the human rights of all people—around the globe, we find it extremely troubling that Asghar Farhadi, the director of the Oscar-winning film from Iran A Separation, along with the cast and crew of this year’s Oscar-nominated film The Salesman, could be barred from entering the country because of their religion or country of origin.”
The Salesman follows a high school teacher (Shahab Hosseini) who seeks revenge against a perpetrator who broke into his apartment and attacked his wife (Taraneh Alidoosti).
It’s nominated this year alongside It’s Only the End of the World (Canada), Land of Mine (Denmark), Tanna (Australia), and Toni Erdmann (Germany).
In 2012 Farhadi was named one of Time‘s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
On Saturday, Alidootsi announced that she would not attend the Oscars in protest of Trump’s executive order, which she called “racist” for singling out specific Muslim countries.
- reporting by MARIA MERCEDES LARA and MIA MCNIECE