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Actor Riz Ahmed Urges Hollywood to Re-examine Muslim Imagery

Actor Riz Ahmed Urges Hollywood to Re-examine Muslim Imagery
British actor Riz Ahmed poses on the red carpet in February at the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London. (TOLGA AKMEN/Getty)

British-Pakistani star Riz Ahmed has called on Hollywood leaders to act on reducing Islamophobic sentiment in the media by presenting more Muslims and change their imagery in their movies, Chicago Tribune reported.

“The efforts of individual artists or storytellers may be bold, they may be progressive, they may act as beacons of hope for other people, but in the face of institutional prejudice and institutionalized obstacles, systemic obstacles, our efforts can sometimes still fall flat,” he told the audience at the CAA Amplify conference in Ojai, California.

Ahmed, the activist, and actor known for “The OA,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “The Night Of,” is the first Muslim actor to win an Emmy.

Though his face is popping up everywhere, Ahmed revealed that he continues to be stopped, searched, and interviewed at airports because of his race.

“(Hasan Minhaj) could win a Peabody, I could win an Emmy, Ibtihaj Muhammad could win the Olympics, but some of these obstacles are systemic, and we can’t really face them alone,” he said.

“We need your help. I’m basically here to ask for your help. Because it’s really scary to be a Muslim right now. Super scary.

“With all my privilege and profile, I often wonder if this is going to be the year they round us up, if this is the year they’re going to put Trump’s Muslim registry into action, if this is going to be the year they ship us all off,” he continued, citing international incidences of Islamophobia, including Brexit-based nationalism in the UK and Uighur Muslims being held in detention camps in China.

Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim actor, as well as the first South-Asian actor, to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series in September 2017.

The award was given for his role as Nasir Khan in “The Night Of.”

The 36-year-old actor has previously talked about stereotyping in Hollywood casting.

In June 2017, he told the Hollywood Reporter that he’d “rather be broke” than be typecast as “Terrorist No. 3.”

Speaking to Parliament in March, he warned that the lack of diversity on television could lead to extremism, particularly recruitment into ISIS.

Last year, Aziz Ansari became the first South-Asian person nominated for an acting Emmy but lost to Jeffrey Tambor.


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