Riz Ahmed warns Parliament that a lack of diversity in TV is leading people to Isis

'In the mind of the Isis recruit, he’s the next James Bond'

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 04 March 2017 10:58 GMT
Riz Ahmed addresses Parliament: 'In the mind of the Isis recruit, he's the next James Bond'

Actor Riz Ahmed has delivered an impassioned lecture expressing his views on the importance of diversity in the media and how failure to embrace it is pushing young people towards Isis.

The Rogue One actor was invited to deliver Channel 4's annual diversity lecture in Parliament where he warned of the dangerous consequences that a lack of diverse stories could lead to believing people from minority backgrounds have been led to “switch off and retreat to fringe narratives, to bubbles online and sometimes even off to Syria.”

He said: “In the mind of the Isis recruit, he’s the next James Bond right? Have you seen some of those Isis propaganda videos, they are cut like action movies. Where is the counter narrative? Where are we telling these kids they can be heroes in our stories, that they are valued?

“If we fail to represent, we are in danger of losing people to extremism.”

The Four Lions star, who is currently starring in the final season of Girls, also spoke out against UK broadcasters' inability to create roles for actors of all ethnicities.

“It takes American remakes of British shows to cast someone like me,” he stated. “We end up going to America to find work. I meet with producers and directors here and they say, 'We don’t have anything for you, all our stories are set in Cornwall in the 1600s’.”

He continued: “If we don’t step up and tell a representative story... we are going to start losing British teenagers to the story that the next chapter in their lives is written with Isis in Syria."

Ahmed also appears in HBO's The Night Of and Netflix series The OA which was recently confirmed to be returning for a second season.

Last year's speech was presented by Idris Elba.

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