The news of the sentence handed down by the courts of the theocratic regime to Mr. Jafar Panahi was indeed distressing: Six years of imprisonment in the regime’s notorious prisons and a 20-year ban from practicing his art.
What was his crime? No one seems to be able to explain except that he is an outspoken opponent of the regime. This unjust sentence will undoubtedly be appealed.
I know prominent Iranian artists-in-exile have mobilized the world artistic community. I am grateful to these Iranian artists as well as the world artistic community for having brought Mr. Panahi’s case to the limelight. We know from experience that your appeals and sharing your spotlight with Jafar Panahi makes all the difference. I trust you will continue your very effective public campaign on his behalf.
I say again to the regime in Tehran, you have done enough harm to our people and to our faith. Surrender this futile struggle with my brave compatriots. As for the case of Mr. Panahi, you will never be able to stop an artist. One of the duties of a responsible and caring government is to nurture and protect the artists of our times, for our times will be judged by their art.
You have failed at this, yet again. But we will not: Just as we cherish Hafez, Sa’adi, and Ferdowsi, our children and grandchildren will cherish our Jafar Panahis.
Let Jafar Panahi go.