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Home News Muslim 'FBI' star breaks stereotypes advocating better TV representation

Muslim 'FBI' star breaks stereotypes advocating better TV representation

Rida Ghaffar  .  Thursday November 29, 2018
 . Current Affairs

We all know that portrayal of Muslim characters in the Media is mostly driven towards the negative side. It’s rare that Muslims are given the chance to be the example of positive representation. Well, here it is!

A new Muslim agent in the TV show ‘FBI’ has been hailed for his role perceived by many as a chance to change the negative portrayal of Muslims as terrorists in the media, as he also advocates for a better representation of the religious minority. In the show, Zaki, aged 28, plays the fictitious FBI agent Omar Adom “OA” Zidan. Egyptian-born Zeeko Zaki told the New York Post:

“They were very interested in me being just me…I came in so dark and so HBO [Home Box Office] and they were like, “‘Nah … stop. We want America to have a beer with this guy. Bring a little levity into it.’”

According to About Islam, the role was originally written for a Latino detective until Zaki’s agent slipped the actor the script and told him to put himself on tape. Shortly, he was summoned to Wolf’s office. After his meeting with Wolf, Zaki received a script where the first line was in Arabic; the part of the Latino detective had been rewritten. Wolf said:

“Zeeko’s Egyptian/Muslim background both grounds and adds depth to the character…He speaks fluent Arabic and that character has not been on a series before. I think he is representative of the type of people that are the boots on the ground in the FBI.”

Zaki, grown up as a Muslim outside of Philadelphia, said that it was as though he unlocked the secret to getting a job on a network drama. Prior to this big break, he had $300 in his bank account and was taking real-estate classes. He was making a living playing “terrorist and ex-military characters.” In 2017, he appeared simultaneously on the failed Fox series “24: Legacy” and the History Channel series “Six.”

Zaki’s experience of “boots on the ground” was put to the test in the pilot, where a series of Bronx apartment buildings exploded. While much of that shattering effect was created by a special effects team, Zaki says there was enough pandemonium on location to bring back memories of 9/11 for members of the crew. The lead says:

“They had cannons in every window. You’re getting covered in soot. You have guys following you around with these dust guns. And there’s fire and everything. And in the moment as an actor, I have no precedent for that.”

He also said that:

“It got a little deep. Our director came out, tearing up. It was a very heavy moment. It kind of showed us how important is to represent FBI agents.”

Besides doing his bit to make viewers aware of the personal sacrifices made by FBI agents, Zaki sees a larger purpose to his role, which is to rehabilitate the image of his people(Muslims) on American TV, since he’s all too aware that Muslims have been the go-to enemy on network series for years.

Zaki sees “FBI” as a chance to change the narrative for Arab-Americans and help create a voice and a platform, stating he hates the word tolerance. He believes he was given this opportunity to figure out how to use it for good. The actor says:

“I have a lot of Arab-American actor friends and everyone is sick and tired of playing terrorists and crying mothers.”

We pray to Allah(SWT) that such successes keep forging into the Muslim world and the anti-Muslim sentiment decreases overtime, throughout the world. We should adhere to patience and hope for the better in future. Nonetheless, such a news is worth sharing and there is no reason you shouldn’t!

See also: Duas for being thankful

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