Oscar-nominated star, Riz Ahmed has spoken out against the “toxic portrayals” of Muslims in Hollywood in a video posted on his YouTube channel.
The actor was impassioned by the findings of a recent report by the Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion which he co-founded to help mentor Muslims trying to make it in the entertainment industry.
Speaking about his own nomination for Heavy Metal last year, he said, “I simultaneously wore that slightly dubious accolade with a sense of gratitude personally… I also felt tremendous sadness.”
Adding, “How was it that out of 1.6 billion people, a quarter of the world’s population, none of us had ever been in this position until now?” He then continued to probe at the Academy Awards, by focussing on the recent Best Picture winner which he deemed racist.
Speaking about Argo and Hurt Locker, he said: “[the films] dehumanise and demonise Muslim characters, insofar as they are the perpetrators or victims of violence, unworthy of empathy or incapable of empathy.”
In a broader sense, Ahmed illuminated how Hollywood and the stories we see on-screen impact our societies. “The representation of Muslims on screen feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded,” he said.
He pointed to the data from the report to ratify this point, which showed that roughly one-third of Muslim on-screen were perpetrators of violence. “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.”
You can watch the full decree below.