British actor, Riz Ahmed revealed that last month he was headed to a Star Wars convention in Chicago when Homeland Security stopped him from boarding the plane.
Speaking at the CAA Amplify Summit last Tuesday Ahmed, who played Bodhi Rook in Star Wars: Rogue One, revealed that he missed the Star Wars celebrations because of Homeland Security. According to the actor, the border patrol guards prevented him from flying because of his Pakistani heritage and unwillingness to code-switch (using a dialect, register, accent, or language variety over another, depending on social or cultural context, to project a specific identity).
Ahmed’s cancellation was initially explained as owing to “circumstances beyond his control.”
According to the Hollywood reporter, Ahmed told the audience at CCA, “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.”
Ahmed, who began acting professionally “during the post-9/11 boom for stage-one stereotypes” explained that he had been regularly stopped from boarding planes over the past 15 years.
In a 2016 essay for the Guardian, the actor described how he had been typecast as a terrorist and how The Road to Guantánamo had left his passport “stamped with an Axis of Evil world tour – shooting in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran within six months.”
The essay is extracted from The Good Immigrant, a book of essays about race and immigration in the UK by 21 British black, Asian and minority ethnic writers.