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  • Rami Malek will co-star along with Daniel Craig in the new James Bond movie.

    Rami Malek will co-star along with Daniel Craig in the new James Bond movie. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 July 2019

“One thing that I discussed with [director] Cary Fukunaga. I said, ‘We cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion,” Malek told The Mirror on Tuesday.

Oscar-winning actor for his performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek revealed that he had one condition prior to accepting a role in the new James Bond film, to not play the stereotypical Arab terrorist or a villain who uses Islam as justification for his crimes.

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American anti-Arab and anti-Muslim Racism

“One thing that I discussed with [director] Cary Fukunaga. I said, ‘We cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion,” Malek told The Mirror on Tuesday.

The actor was born in the U.S. to Egyptian parents, but more than once has said he is Egyptian, as it is “the fabric” of who he is. Thus Malek emphasized that playing a role like that is  ­something he “would not entertain, so if that is why I am your choice then you can count me out’.” 

According to Mazin Qumsiyeh, author of "100 Years of Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim stereotyping", Arabs and Muslims have historically been portrayed in movies and television, as  “bombers, belly dancers, or billionaires," to what some refer to as the "the three B syndrome."

The perpetuation of this stereotype has vast negative effects on those populations that directly are related to the stereotype. At the same time, the constant recycling of the stereotype is what French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002), referred to as “reality effect”, meaning the power of repeated images or ideas to make people believe in what they show.

“It is difficult to imagine that screenwriters who draft scenes of fat, lecherous sheiks ogling Western blondes, or crazed Arab terrorists threatening to blow up the U.S. with nuclear weapons, are not precisely aware of what they are doing,” said Jack Shaheen author of "Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People". 

The expert explains that filmmakers and screenwriters who “grew up watching Western heroes crush hundreds of reel "bad" Arabs. Some naturally repeat the stereotype without realizing that, in so doing, they are innocently joining the ranks of the stereotypes' creators.” 

However, as the upcoming spy film and the 25th installment in Ian Fleming’s saga approaches its premiere, Malek announced that the villain he will portray in Bond:25 “is a very different kind of terrorist.”

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