Exiled actress Farahani decries ‘massacre’ in Iran

Iranian actress and singer Golshifteh Farahani attends the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2019

Exiled actress Farahani decries ‘massacre’ in Iran

  • Golshifteh Farahani: ‘It’s a massacre, with hundreds of people dead’
  • Farahani upset the Iranian authorities when she appeared in Ridley Scott’s spy thriller ‘Body of Lies’

MARRAKESH, Morocco: Exiled Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani has condemned what she called a “massacre” in her homeland, which has been rocked by a wave of deadly protests.
Farahani, Iran’s first actress to star in a Hollywood film since the 1979 revolution, told AFP in an interview that the Iranian people were “suffering economically, politically and democratically.”
The United States said Thursday that Iranian authorities may have killed more than 1,000 people in a crackdown on demonstrations, after the government abruptly hiked fuel prices.
According to London-based human rights group Amnesty International, at least 208 people died in the protests that erupted on November 15.
“It’s a massacre, with hundreds of people dead,” Farahani said on the sidelines of the Marrakesh International Film Festival.
“I’ve learned not to dream when it comes to Iran. We cannot guess what will happen tomorrow.
“I didn’t expect the price of petrol to triple overnight. At the same time, I know that the people are suffering economically, politically and democratically. And when people suffer, it can explode quickly,” she said.
Iran has dismissed the high death tolls reported by foreign sources as “utter lies” and has so far confirmed only five dead — four security force personnel killed by “rioters” and one civilian.
Farahani — daughter of the acclaimed director Behzad Farahani — upset the Iranian authorities when she appeared in Ridley Scott’s spy thriller “Body of Lies” in 2008 alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
She went into exile, first in the United States and then in France where she now lives.
“I realized that I preferred being in Europe, in the middle of the world,” she said.
“Being in exile is like being in an ocean. Your only choice is to swim or you’ll die.”
Farahani said she cannot return to Iran.
“Because of my films, because I’m a woman, for not wearing the veil,” she said.
“Everything I did when I left Iran became like a political act, when it was not the case,” she added.
“I wasn’t a politician or an activist. I was just an actress. A female actress. If I were a man I would have taken a different path.”


Saudi Cafe and Misk Lighthouse: A bit of Saudi Arabia in the Alps

Updated 23 January 2020

Saudi Cafe and Misk Lighthouse: A bit of Saudi Arabia in the Alps

  • Kingdom's national dishes can be sampled at cafe run by the Misk Foundation at the World Economic Forum
  • Besides the culinary delights, Saudi art and design are on display at the Misk Lighthouse on Promenade 62

DAVOS: Forget hot chocolate — Davos delegates seeking to keep warm can visit the Saudi Cafe to sample a snug mug of Medina black tea topped with dried rose petals, or tuck into a plate of Shaatha cake.

The culinary delights are on offer at the pop-up cafe, run by Saudi Arabia’s Misk Foundation, which is open for the week at the mountain venue of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

“This is the first year that we have the Saudi Cafe in Davos,” said chef Najla Al-Otaibi while preparing a tray of Masabeb, a sweet dish made of pancakes topped with golden honey and traditional ghee. “The people really enjoyed the food and the drinks, the Arabic coffee and the tea, which comes straight from Madinah, and the Karak tea with milk.”

Other items found on the menu are the Henaini, a plate of crumbled bread mixed in with fresh dates and thinly-sliced lemon wedges, as well as the most popular dish, the Shaatha cake, a traditional old Bedouin dish made from dates.

Everyone orders the Shaatha cake and downs it with a hot cup of Karak tea, said Al-Otaibi, as she multi-tasked around the cafe.

“I love to show the world our food. I want to introduce them all to our food, and show the amazing dishes we have in Saudi Arabia.”

Further down the snow-covered street, buzzing with the different languages of the Davos delegates, we reach Promenade 62 — the Misk Lighthouse, which is an area for hosting debates and discussion forums focused on skills, entrepreneurship and global citizenship. It features prominent speakers, Saudi art and refreshments.

“The designer is obsessed with Islamic Art,” said Basma Al-Shathry, curator at the Misk Art Institute. “All the design pieces here are created by three simple shapes derived from Islamic art, which create different pieces of furniture that are functional, so chairs, bookshelves and tables.

“He uses wood, he is very sustainable with his approach, he tries to use as little as possible and he tries to make sure the pieces outlive their users, so adaptability is very important.”

On the wall in front of the furniture are drawings of the three original shapes Al-Shathry describes, with more and more complicated forms based around them.

“The artist is the priority, so we try to make sure that whatever initiative we take helps the artist solidify their role within society, locally and internationally,” the curator said. “It’s our role to make sure that it reaches the right people at the right place,” she said.