"After local Iranian-Jewish community activists received information in February that Akbar Abdi, an Iranian Muslim comedian notorious for his anti-Semitism, would be traveling to the United States from Iran to perform Farsi language shows in Southern California, they launched a grass-roots campaign to have the U.S. Department of State revoke the comedian’s visa. ... Abdi, who is in his late 50s, is very popular in Iran for his roles in comedy films, some with direct anti-Semitic themes, which span nearly four decades. ... Perhaps the most widely seen evidence of Abdi’s anti-Semitism can be found in a YouTube video from 2013 in which he is shown receiving a film award from Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and praising Ahmadinejad for “his courageous United Nation’s speech in the Johood’s own house.” The Farsi word Johood is a derogatory term for Jews, which has been used in Iran for centuries to humiliate and threaten people of the Jewish faith. ... In Abdi’s films, he frequently uses the term Johood, and in one he openly mocks persecuted Jews escaping from anti-Semites in Iran by saying “God didn’t even make me a lowly Johood, so I could get a visa to leave this country." The management of the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, which initially had agreed to host Abdi for a Los Angeles performance at the end of February, said it canceled his show after being notified by local Iranian-Jewish activists about the comedian’s strong anti-Semitic statements. Activists said they don’t know how many tickets were sold for Abdi’s performance, but they had sent out alerts to Iranian Jews through synagogues and emails as well as on social media imploring potential ticket-buyers to boycott his show. ... Local Jewish groups, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, have offered their support for Southern California Iranian Jews who have been pushing the Obama administration to bar Abdi from entering the country. ... “There are a few Iranian Jews who have suggested it is best to ignore this man, so as not to ‘jeopardize the Jewish community in Iran,’ but I flatly reject that mentality,” Haroonian said. ... Nikbakht believes Abdi’s hatred of Jews is a byproduct of the Iranian regime’s openly anti-Semitic policies, and that the regime has encouraged others to help advance its message of hate. ..."
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