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Cultural Highs And Lows For Iran

Director Asghar Farhadi (left) and Actor Peyman Moadi arrive at the Golden Globes.

The Iranian domestic drama, “A Separation,” has won the prestigious Golden Globe award.

The Iranian domestic drama, “A Separation,” has won the prestigious Golden Globe award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for best foreign language film. Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, “A Separation” is now in contention for two Academy Awards, the top motion picture prizes of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In a press briefing, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland praised Mr. Farhadi’s success:

“We would like to formally congratulate Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi, whose film, ‘A Separation: Nader and Simin,’ won the Golden Globe award for best foreign film ... We applaud his achievement, and it’s a testament to the richness and the resilience of Persian culture.”

International recognition of Mr. Farhadi’s work comes at a tense time for many filmmakers and other artists in Iran, who have been subjected to government censorship for decades. In early January, Iranian authorities shut down the Tehran-based House of Cinema, a non-governmental professional organization for the Iranian film community. Observers believe the move was made because of the organization’s support for Iranian filmmakers who have been arrested and accused by the government of security crimes.

On January 10, well-known literary translator Mohammad Soleimaninya was reportedly arrested after security guards searched his house and confiscated electronic devices and documents. His current whereabouts are unknown. Also, in mid-January, authorities arrested a prominent singer, Ghalib Manabi Salehi, and his brother Hassan, from their home in Ahwaz, a city whose residents are predominantly from the Arab minority. Their whereabouts are also unknown at this time.

It is not only living artists that the Iranian regime seeks to muzzle. In August, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance refused a publishing house permission to reprint one of Iran’s classic epic poems, “Khosrow and Shirin” by Nezami Ganjavi. Renowned contemporary Iranian poet Simin Behbahani noted that the poem has existed for nine centuries, and no one before this thought parts of it should be censored. “Nothing would be left [of it] by now,” she said. “Those who talk about censoring the poem should be ashamed.”

The Iranian people, as President Barack Obama has said, have a great and storied history and culture. Instead of supporting this proud tradition, the Iranian regime seeks to stifle the people’s creativity.