“It was post 9/11, and I was now labelled a Muslim.” Riz Ahmed recounts being a victim of a ‘typecast’ attack by airport security.
For those who believe that Islamophobia is a hyped myth, here is an experience that provides a new perspective. Pakistani-British actor Riz Ahmed recently spoke out about his experiences as being a non-white and a Muslim in a post 9/11 world. The star of HBO's The Night Of, Ahmed's career path was never easy and strewn with unhappy incidents of stereotypical discrimination and racial hatred.
In his essay, “Typecast as a Terrorist,” Ahmed has painted a vivid picture of what it feels to be the victim of continual racial discrimination and distrust by authorities.
The 33-year-old actor made a very powerful statement, reflective of the sad plight of Muslims, by saying that as a non-British, Pakistani Muslim, he has had to endure the painful reality of being told what he is. The actor’s words indicate how the world in general refuses to see the uniqueness of each Muslim and to accept them as human beings by labeling them and expecting them to be what they want to believe they are. Ahmed likens this to being handed “a necklace of labels” which people like him are forced to wear, and the only ways in which they are recognized in society.
The actor also reflected on the stereotyped roles that people like him are expected to play in media. He says, it's either a cab driver, an owner of a corner shop or a terrorist suspect. Ahmed also talks about how artists like him long to be cast as any other actor would be cast, without the clichéd roles that seem to be reserved for them.
If you read one thing today, make it this: Typecast as a terrorist, by Riz Ahmed https://t.co/U1h722Gh2l
— Aisha S Gani (@aishagani) September 15, 2016
In the essay, he compared his experiences in the audition room to his experiences in getting detained at airports. He expressed his disappointment that his ethnicity makes authorities think that they have a right to harass him and treat him like a suspect, with the only evidence being the length of his beard, his name and his country of origin. He also reflected on an incident that occurred one day at an airport where he was threatened, humiliated and even physically attacked by British authorities because of Afghan and Iranian stamps on his passport. He says that even shooting at locations like Afghanistan and Iran, gave enough reason to the Intelligence Officers to detain him.
His essay forms part of The Good Immigrant, a collection of life experiences written by African, Asian and other ethnic minorities in the UK.
- The Guardian –Typecast as a Terrorist
- Daily Mail
- The Night Of
- Star Wars
- Unbound –The Good Immigrant