And the actor and rapper has been putting his influence to good use.
Ahmed has been politically active for a while – from his controversial role in the Jihadi satire film Four Lions, to his essay on the similarity between the casting couch and airport security called, ‘Typecast as a Terrorist‘, his politically-engaged rap group (the Swet Shop Boys) which has songs like ‘Englistan’ and the hundreds of thousands of pounds he helped raise for Syrian refugees.
He told us at the ELLE Style awards in February that, ‘Right now, the story that seems to have been taking over people’s imagination is that we live in an ‘us versus them’ world. And, we have to push back against that. There’s no us versus them, we’re all in this together.’
In the wake of the third terror attack in London over the last few weeks (as well as the tragedy of Grenfell Tower that saw tens, possibly hundreds, of people killed in a fire that engulfed a social housing tower block) there has been much debate on how perpetrators, victims and heroes are portrayed in the media according to their race, religion, ideology and class.
Many people have drawn attention to the language used when the perpetrators of the attack are ‘Muslim’, or at least claim to be, for example the men who perpetrated both the Manchester and London Bridge/ Borough Market attacks in comparison to white non-muslim perpetrators in the recent attack in Finsbury Park.
It has been suggested that for white, non-Muslim terrorists, the narrative of a mentally ill, lone wolf is perpetrated, whilst ‘Muslim’ terrorist coverage is about the ills of Islam and radicalisation in the UK.
Riz took to Twitter to voice his own opinion on the matter with a six post long thread.
Many people on social media are pointing out how right-wing extremism has made its way into main-stream media and could seriously be playing a hand in radicalising people in the UK against Muslim people.
The logic stands that if Muslim men (often these ‘lone-wolf’ characters) can be radicalized then why can’t non-muslim men be radicalised the other way? Can’t both be mentally ill, can’t both be terrorists?
People like J.K Rowling have been pointing out specific cases of calls for right-wing extremism.
Journalist Hussein Kesvani was one of the voices who claimed to explain how ‘inevitable’ an attack on Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park was, because of the ‘right-wing media”s ‘years-long campaign of dehumanisation’.
Thankfully, much of the humanity of the victims of the attacks has managed to shine through.
Stories of Muslim courage and compassion have been widespread, but there is obviously still much work to be done.