Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Moonlight. Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.
However, the sect of Islam he follows, Ahmadiyya, is regarded as heretical by mainstream Sunni Islam. Ahmadi Muslims believe the group’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is a messianic figure and the reincarnation of Jesus among other things.
Ahmadis are often murdered for their faith. In Pakistan last year, a string of attacks hit members of the minority in Karachi. ALos last year In March, an Islamist extremist stabbed and killed an Ahmadi shopkeeper in Glasgow in the UK. The murderer was later sentenced to life imprisonment.
On Friday, an Ahmadi mosque in the Jakarta satellite city of Depok was closed by the state for unspecified “illegal activities.” A 2008 presidential edict forbids Ahmadis from spreading their faith in Indonesia.
A protest by the hardline Islamic Defenders Front had been scheduled to demand the closure of the mosque.
Ali did not speak about these matters in his speech.
“Regardless of one’s theology or how you see life or relate to worshipping god, my job as an artist is to tell the truth and connect with these characters as deeply as possible,” Ali told media after the ceremony. “One’s spiritual practice … I do not believe it’s relevant unless it gives you a way into these people that you have to advocate for. I’m proud to own that and I embrace that. I’m just an artist that feels blessed to have the opportunities I have had.”