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Negative portrayal of Muslims in movies can’t be ignored any more: Riz Ahmed

Riz Ahmed also announced to start a campaign to fix the problem and asked everyone to join the campaign

Saturday June 12, 2021 6:52 PM, ummid.com with inputs from Agencies

Riz Ahmed

London: British Actor Riz Ahmed after a study showed that they are barely seen and shown in a negative light when they do appear said the problem with Muslim misrepresentation cannot be ignored any more.

“I'm fed up of seeing Muslim characters on screen either negative or non-existent”, Riz, the only Muslim to have been nominated for Oscar best actor award, said in a post on Instagram.

“The industry must change. Our new study proves what many of us always felt about #MuslimsInFilm. The cost is measured in hate & lost lives”, he said.

In the accompanying video message, Riz Ahmed announced to start a campaign to fix the problem and asked everyone to join the campaign.

“It’s one that I can’t fix alone and the handful of prominent Muslims in the business can’t fix without your help”, he said.

Drawing parallel between negative portrayal of Muslims in the movies and minstrelsy, an American form of racist entertainment developed in the early 19th century that negatively depicted people specifically of African descent, Riz said:

“I think we are going to look back at this period of misrepresentation with the same shame and sadness that we look upon minstrelsy.”

“It’s something that has to be changed and it’s something that we can’t change on our own. It is a structural problem. We have to join hands... Join hands, open their eyes and make a solemn commitment to take some concrete steps”, he added.

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A post shared by Riz Ahmed (@rizahmed)

Riz Ahmed vowed to address the issue after the study titled "Missing and Maligned” by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that less than 10% of top-grossing films released from 2017-2019 from the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand featured at least one speaking Muslim character, according to news agency Reuters.

When they did, they were shown as outsiders, or threatening, or subservient, the study showed. About one-third of Muslim characters were perpetrators of violence and more than half were targets of violence.

"Muslims live all over the world, but film audiences only see a narrow portrait of this community, rather than viewing Muslims as they are: business owners, friends and neighbours whose presence is part of modern life," said Al-Baab Khan, one of the report's authors.

As part of his campaign, Riz Ahmed intends to fund and mentor Muslim story tellers in the early stages of their careers.

Citing a statement by the British actor, Reuters said a $25,000 fellowship for young Muslim artists will be decided by an advisory committee that includes actors Mahershala Ali and Ramy Youssef and comedian Hasan Minhaj.


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