Representation of Muslims challenged with new test

Riz Ahmed inspires activists to take on the clichés

by Jennie Kermode

Riz Ahmed in Rogue One
Riz Ahmed in Rogue One

In the tradition of the Bechdel Test and the Vito Test, Rogue One, a new code aimed at classifying films by the way in which they represent Muslims was launched today. Rather than focusing on the inclusion of more Muslim characters, the code - which was developed by a group of people but has been named the Riz Test after Riz Ahmed, whose recent speech inspired it - concentrates on highlighting the problem with Islamophobic tropes, and read as follows:-

If the film/show stars at least one character who is identifiably Muslim (by ethnicity, language or clothing) - is the character…

  1. Talking about, the victim of, or the perpetrator of Islamist terrorism?
  2. Presented as irrationally angry?
  3. Presented as superstitious, culturally backwards or anti-modern?
  4. Presented as a threat to a Western way of life?
  5. If the character is..
  6. Male, is he presented as misogynistic?
  7. Female, is she presented as oppressed by her male counterparts?

Ahmed himself starred in Four Lions, which would meet at least two of these criteria, but satire is clearly a special case. While viewers are probably alert to the way that Muslim terrorists have become go-to villains like Russians in the Eighties, it's easier to overlook the casual stereotyping of ordinary Muslims in minor roles. Riz Test supporters hope that introducing the code will help to start a conversation on the issue and lead to representation that is fairer and more diverse.

Share this with others on...

Into the future through the past Rupert Maconick in conversation on Takumi: A 60,000 Hour Story On the Survival Of Human Craft

Never finished Franz Rogowski on Christian Petzold's Transit and The State We Are In

Computer says no Paul Hyett on technology, the creative process and Peripheral

Taking control Desirae Brown on The 5 Browns: Digging Through The Darkness

Feminist Arts Festival comes to Glasgow Rafiki among films screening

Margaret Tait to be honoured in Orkney Pioneering filmmaker will be remembered by a plaque

Malaysian censors shred Bohemian Rhapsody Heavily edited version tries to downplay Freddie Mercury's sexuality

More news and features

We're bringing you reviews from the French Film Festival UK, the Seville Film Festival, the the Dunoon Film Festival and DOC NYC.

We're looking forward to Welsh horror spectacular Abertoir and the Scottish Queer International Film Festival.

We've recently been covering Made In Prague, the London Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, the San Diego International Film Festival and the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Read our full for recent coverage.

Visit our festivals section.


Win a Network Premiere World collection, including Teddy Bear, Watchtower, Terri and A Master Builder in our latest competitions.