The Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion

Presented by

Pillars Fund
Riz Ahmed and Left Handed Films
USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative
With support from the Ford Foundation

Why Muslim Representation Matters

Anti-Muslim hatred has reached “epidemic proportions” according to Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Studies show on-screen depictions of Muslims have direct consequences on policy and legislation.

Helping improve Muslim representation in film and television is a unique inclusion opportunity across both class and race, given Muslims are a racially and geographically diverse faith group that makes up nearly 25% of the world’s population (1.9 billion people). Muslims are also the most likely faith group to live in poverty in the U.S., and more than half of Muslims in the U.K. live in poverty.

While most diversity initiatives don’t focus on religion, the racialization and marginalization of Muslims as a distinct group means we must directly tackle anti-Muslim hate, stereotypes, and erasure.

Only 1% of TV characters are Muslim Even though 25% of the world's population is Muslim

Illustration by Mona Chalabi

What you can do

Take the
Muslim Visibility Challenge

The Muslim Visibility Challenge calls on the film industry to transform on-screen representation of Muslims with two urgent actions:

Number One

Sunset terror tropes in your content over the next 18 months.

It’s time to say goodbye to story lines of violent Muslim terrorists.
Number One

Hire a Muslim creator in the next 18 months by securing a first-look deal, making a development deal, or hiring for a staffing job.

When Muslims are empowered in the creative process, we can create more well-rounded and accurate stories.

Become a
Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion

We can transform institutions to engage Muslim communities, unearth incredible stories, and ensure Muslims feel seen and empowered to tell their tales. See the full Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion for our complete set of detailed recommendations.

The Blueprint

Studios, Networks, and Production Companies

  • Conduct inclusion script reviews that capitalize on the expertise of self-identified Muslims. Examine and reform casting practices.
  • Source Muslim vendors and suppliers. Full list to support sourcing can be found in Appendix C of the Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion.
  • Build and support pipeline programs that bring Muslim executives, creators, and above-the-line and below-the-line crew into the process of bringing narratives to the screen.

Film and Drama Schools

  • Invite Muslim talent to serve on your board.
  • Engage your endowments and donors to underwrite fellowships and thesis films for Muslims.
  • Support emerging Muslim filmmakers with the resources to attend the top 10 film festivals globally.


  • Audit your talent pool and track the number and percentage of intersectional Muslim writers, above-the-line talent, and on-screen talent your agency represents.
  • Intentionally seek out polycultural and diverse Muslim talent.
  • Conduct script reviews that capitalize on the expertise of self-identified Muslims before shopping scripts to ensure the Muslim representation in your scripts is inclusive, accurate, and nuanced.
  • Represent Muslim consultants who can collaborate with writers, studios, production companies, and other industry professionals.


  • Earmark slots in pipeline and lab programming for Muslim creatives each year.
  • Invite Muslim talent to serve on your board.
  • Intentionally invite Muslim critics and journalists to cover your festival.

Want your company to get involved? Email for more information on how to transform your institution by becoming a blueprint partner.

“The representation of Muslims on screen feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded. The data doesn’t lie. This study shows us the scale of the problem in popular film, and its cost is measured in lost potential and lost lives.”

—Riz Ahmed, Actor and Activist

Portrait of Riz Ahmed

The data

Muslims on TV

In 2022, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released Erased or Extremists, their most recent study exploring the portrayals of Muslims across 200 top-rated series in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. In these 200 series…
98.9% Non-Muslim
1.1% Muslim

98 of 8,885 speaking roles were Muslim characters.

60.2% Inconsequential Muslim Characters

The vast majority of Muslim speaking characters on screen were inconsequential. The ratio of inconsequential Muslims characters is 4.92 to every 1 series regular.

30.6% Female
69.4% Male

More than two thirds of Muslim characters were male.

37.2% Muslims with jobs as criminals
30.6% Muslims as perpetrators of violence

Muslim characters were most likely to have jobs as criminals and almost one third of Muslims were shown as perpetrators of violence.

Muslims on Film

In 2021, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released Missing and Maligned, a first-of-its-kind study exploring the prevalence and portrayals of Muslims in 200 top-grossing films between 2017 and 2019 in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. In these 200 top films...
98.4% Non-Muslim
1.6% Muslim

144 out of 8,965 speaking roles were Muslim characters.

39% Muslims as perpetrators of violence
53.7% Muslims as targets of violence

Primary and secondary Muslim characters were often limited to being depicted as perpetrators or victims of violence.

66.7% of Muslim characters were Middle Eastern/North African, although Muslims are one of the most racially and ethnically diverse groups in the world.

66.7% Muslims were Middle Eastern/North African
20.8% Muslims were Asian
5.6% Muslims were Black/African American
4.2% Muslims were white/Caucasian
2.8% Muslims were multiracial/multiethnic

In these top 200 films:


The Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion

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