Actor Riz Ahmed sounded off on so-called Islamaphobia during a speech at the Creative Artists Agency Amplify conference in Ojai, California, suggesting whether this will be the year U.S. authorities “round up” Muslims and deport them overseas.
Speaking in front of an audience of powerful industry executives, actors, and politicians, the British-Pakistani actor called on people to act against negative portrayals of Muslims in Hollywood and the media, claiming it was “super scary” to be a Muslim in the Western world.
“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,” said Ahmed.
“(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,” the Venom star 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.”
The Rogue One: A Star Wars Story actor went on to ponder whether the Trump administration would put a so-called “Muslim registry” into action or even begin rounding Muslims up and deporting them overseas, adding that people’s “lives are quite literally at stake.”
“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,” said Ahmed. “I think lives are quite literally at stake here. The representation of Muslims on screen — that feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ahmed also discussed how for the past 15 years he has been “consistently stopped, searched and interviews at airports because of his race.” This issue was reportedly exemplified last month when he missed a Star Wars convention in Chicago because Homeland Security prevented him from boarding his flight.
Variety reports that Ahmed’s speech received a standing ovation, suggesting the audience was won over on his call to action on changing the portrayals of Muslims in the media.
It is not the first time that Riz Ahmed has made exaggerated statements about the issue of Islamaphobia. In March 2017, he warned that insufficient opportunities for young minority actors in the United Kingdom could lead them to join terrorist groups such as the Islamic State.
“If we fail to represent, we are in danger of losing people to extremism,” he said at the time, adding that failure to include minority actors could lead them to “switch off and retreat to fringe narratives, to bubbles online and sometimes even off to Syria.”