Emmy Award-winning actor Riz Ahmed surprised everyone recently when he revealed that he wasn’t able to attend a “Star Wars” celebration in Chicago in May because Homeland Security stopped him from boarding the plane.
The British Pakistani actor, who played Bodhi Rook in the 2016 “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” told the audience at the CAA Amplify conference in Ojai, Calif., according to The Hollywood Reporter, that for 15 years, he’s been “consistently stopped, searched and interviewed at airports because of his race.” He said it happened again when he was traveling to Chicago for the celebration when “Homeland Security stopped him from boarding the plane.”
The Star Wars convention had announced on Twitter then that Ahmed would be cancelling his appearance due to “circumstances beyond his control.”
Ahmed, who was leading a panel on Muslim representation in Hollywood alongside Indian American comedian Hasan Minhaj, said, as per The Hollywood Reporter: “He can win a Peabody, I can win an Emmy, Ibtihaj Muhammad can go to the Olympics, but some of these obstacles are systemic and we can’t really face them alone, 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. I’ve often wondered, is this going to be the year when they round us up? If this is going to be the year they put Trump’s registry into action? If this is going to be the year they ship us all off?”
He also talked about how the “easiest way to win elections today is with Islamophobia,” which is why it’s important how Muslims are represented on-screen.
“How I do what I do is because like all of you here, I’m a code-switcher,” Ahmed was quoted as saying. “We all know how to change the way we talk, the way we dress, the way we walk as we enter one room or another. We all know how to navigate terrain that isn’t of our own making. That’s how I can do it, but that’s not why I do what I do. The why is because I don’t want to have to code-switch anymore.”