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.

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