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Muslims in films are either invisible or villains: Riz Ahmed

Announces $25,000 award for Muslim storytellers

SAMAA | - Posted: Jun 11, 2021 | Last Updated: 6 months ago
Posted: Jun 11, 2021 | Last Updated: 6 months ago

Photo: Instagram/Riz Ahmed

British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed has teamed up with a Chicago-based advocacy group to create $25,000 fellowships for Muslim filmmakers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“These stats are crazy,” Riz Ahmed tweeted, referring to a study. “When it comes to Muslims in films, we’re either invisible or villains.”

Riz’s collaboration with the Pillars Fund and Ford Foundation will help Muslim showcase their talent onscreen. The group conducted a study as well that points out the marginalisation of Muslims in Hollywood. It is titled Missing & Maligned: The Reality of Muslims in Popular Global Movies.

“The representation of Muslims on screen feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded,” said Riz. 

Only 1.65% of 8,965 speaking characters were played by Muslims, according to the study. Muslim women have a very low representation, with the ratio of male characters to female being 175 to 1.

Of 200 films, 181 had no Muslim characters at all.

A negative and violent depiction of Muslims has been prevalent in Hollywood. About one-third of Muslim characters are violent, and more than half are victims of violence. Only one Muslim character was found to be with a disability.

Members to serve on the Pillars Artist Fellowship advisory board include Riz himself and Hasan Minhaj, among eight others.

Riz Ahmed is the first Muslim actor to have won a lead actor Oscar nomination for his performance in Sound of Metal.

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