Muslims are very rarely depicted in movies, and when they are, it's usually as a stereotypical terrorist, what Oscar nominated actor Riz Ahmed calls a "dangerous trope." Having spoken out about this issue for several years, he's been looking for hard data. Now's he got it. This week, The University of Southern California's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative came out with the report he asked for. It's titled Missing and Maligned: The Reality of Muslims in Popular Global Movies.
USC's researchers combed through 200 popular films from the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand from 2017 to 2019. They found that only six of them had a Muslim in a co-leading role, and only one of those was female. Of the nearly 9,000 speaking parts, fewer than two percent were Muslim. And there were none in animated movies.
"Being confronted with the hard stats themselves was in a way shocking to see how bad it was," Ahmed told NPR. "Just the extent of Muslim erasure, the extent in particular of erasure of Black Muslims, and Muslim women, it was really shocking."