Negative portrayals will drive young Muslims to join ISIS

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British star Riz Ahmed has said that negative portrayals and a lack of representation on television may drive young Muslims to accept propaganda put forth by jihadists such as the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.

The famous actor told the UK parliament during an annual diversity report on Thursday that a perceived rejection of minority communities by mainstream media has led some to “switch off and retreat to fringe narratives” supported by jihadist groups who exploit dissatisfied youth.

Around 850 people from the UK alone have reportedly joined the jihadists’ ranks in Iraq and Syria, along with tens of thousands of other foreigners from across the globe. “If we fail to represent, we are in danger of losing people to extremism. 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?”
Ahmed, who is a British citizen of Pakistani origin and Muslim, is known for his memorable roles in The Night Of in which he played a New York University student facing media prejudice during a murder trial and 2010 dark comedy film Four Lions, in which he satirically portrayed a wannabe jihadist attempting to conduct a terror attack in the UK.

The 34-year-old actor has also touched on the subject of racial diversity in his career in hip-hop, a genre that established a platform to express the struggles of the black Muslim community through artists such as Nas, Mos Def and the Wu-Tang Clan. Last year, Ahmed releasedEnglistan that discussed the multicultural scenery of the UK.