Riz Ahmed leads bid to change way Muslims seen in movies

Riz Ahmed leads bid to change way Muslims seen in movies

He highlighted the importance of funding and mentoring for Muslim storytellers early in their careers.
Updated 11 Jun, 2021

British actor Riz Ahmed on Thursday launched an effort to improve the way Muslims are depicted in movies after a study showed that they are barely seen and shown in a negative light when they do appear.

Ahmed, the Sound of Metal star and the first Muslim to get a best actor Oscar nomination, said the Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion would include funding and mentoring for Muslim storytellers in the early stages of their careers.

"The representation of Muslims on screen feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded," Ahmed said in a statement.

"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," he added.

Titled "Missing and Maligned," the study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that less than 10% of top-grossing films released from 2017-2019 from the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand featured at least one speaking Muslim character.

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.

Ahmed, 38, who was born in London to Pakistani parents, said that offering funding would be game changing in getting more Muslim actors, writer and producers into the movie and TV business.

"Had I not received a scholarship and also a private donation, I wouldn't have been able to attend drama school," he said.

The $25,000 fellowships for young Muslim artists will be decided by an advisory committee that includes actors Mahershala Ali and Ramy Youssef and comedian Hasan Minhaj.


FAZ Jun 11, 2021 11:24am
Tough challenge!
Chrís Dăn Jun 11, 2021 11:51am
Riz needs to focus himself only&only on Pakistani Muslims. Muslims of other countries such as Lebanon,Turkey,Egypt,Albania,Kosovo,Malaysia,Indonesia,Morocco etc are fully integerated with civic cultures of their adopted countries- these muslims do not stab knife attacks /do self suicidal attacks on their own communities- so RIZ, you focus on behavioural issues of Pakistani Muslims only who abroad keep isolated from their own civic communities.
N K Ali Jun 11, 2021 11:59am
Great going Riz! I loved your role in Jason Bourne. Keep the flag flying high. Salams
Zak Jun 11, 2021 12:38pm
Excellent move which will have major impact in the western movie industry. Muslims are making a mark in acting, specially Pakistani origin actors in Hollywood but now they need writers, producers, directors etc to bring the positivity of Muslims in cinema and TV.
TenJee Jun 11, 2021 04:41pm
@Chrís Dăn You need to get your facts right. Last time I checked the majority of terrorist attacks in the West by so-called Muslims were from non-Pakistani diaspora. Riz is expressing a valid view. He did not limit it to just the Pakistani diaspora, but to the depiction of all Muslims, and in that he is 100% right. Your propensity to twist every such news story into a rant about Pakistanis and Muslims make me think, are you Ben Shapiro in disguise?
AJ Jun 12, 2021 03:45am
Pious thought, great intension. Lord be with you!
Zulfiqar Jun 12, 2021 05:40am
Muslims are a very diverse group. Values and norms differ from country to country, region to region. His initiative is good but may only be applicable to Muslims born and raised in the west. If Muslims want to counter a negative narrative it’s important to make meaningful content about Muslim stories. Like Turkish shows which are popular globally.