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Riz Ahmed Demands Urgent Change To ‘Racist’ Portrayals Of Muslims In Film And TV

by : Julia Banim on : 12 Jun 2021 11:48
Riz Ahmed Demands Urgent Change To 'Racist' Portrayals Of Muslims In Film And TVRiz Ahmed/YouTube/Marvel

Riz Ahmed has called for urgent change to portrayals of Muslims in films and TV shows, and announced a new initiative to address the issue.

In a recorded speech addressed directly to those working in the film industry, Ahmed, 38, stated that ‘the Islamophobia industry is one that measures its cost in blood’.

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Detailing instances of his own personal experiences with racism, the Four Lions star went on to criticise movies such as American Sniper, The Hurt Locker and Argo, saying they were ‘frankly racist’ in their depictions of Muslim characters.

You can see Ahmed’s speech here:

According to Ahmed, these films ‘dehumanise and demonise Muslim characters, insofar as they are the perpetrators or victims of violence, unworthy of empathy or incapable of empathy’.

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Ahmed said:

The problem of Muslim misrepresentation is one that can’t be ignored any more… and it’s a problem that a handful of prominent Muslims in the business can’t fix.

[…] The progress that’s being made by a few of us doesn’t paint an overall picture of progress if most of the portrayals of Muslims on screen are either non-existent or entrenched in those stereotypical, toxic, two-dimensional portrayals.

The speech coincided with Ahmed’s announcement of The Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion and the Pillars Artist Fellowship, launched in response to the recent study Missing & Maligned: The Reality of Muslims in Popular Global Movies.

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This study, from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, looked at Muslim representation in 200 movies from the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand released between the years 2017 and 2019.

It was discovered that less than 10% of these films (9.5% or 19) featured at least one Muslim character in a speaking role, and that less than 2% of the characters within these films were Muslim.

Writing on the Pillars website, Ahmed added: ‘The representation of Muslims on screen feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded. The data doesn’t lie. This study shows us the scale of the problem in popular film and its cost is measured in lost potential and lost lives.’

Featured Image Credit: Riz Ahmed/YouTube/Marvel

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Film and TV, Film, Now

Credits

Pillars and 2 others
  1. Pillars

    Coalition Unites to Define and Address Issues of Muslim Representation in Film

  2. Pillars

    Missing and Maligned

  3. Riz Ahmed/YouTube

    Muslim Misrepresentation in Film | #MuslimsInFilm