Speaking in a lengthy interview with GQ Hype, Ahmed revealed he has suffered personal bereavement during the pandemic, “I have lost two family members to COVID. I just want to believe their deaths and all the others aren’t for nothing. We gotta step up to reimagine a better future.” Ahmed did not specify who he had lost.
The actor, who was born in London to a British Pakistani family, also spoke about his perception of the global handling of the pandemic, and how he believes it is being used for political gains.
“Trump is using it as an excuse to try to ban immigration and the Hungarian government is centralizing power off the back of this,” Ahmed said. “I’m seeing reports of India, where the government are calling it “corona-jihad” and they’re trying to blame it on the spread of Muslims and they are segregating hospitals between Muslims and non-Muslims.”
The actor also discussed how perceptions of race could be shifted by the virus.
“I’m looking at the fact it’s hitting African-Americans twice as hard; I’m looking at the fact that 50 per cent of NHS frontline workers – is it 50 per cent? – are ethnic minorities,” he said, referencing the UK’s national health service. “Who are the people who, for every moment of crisis in this country, have kept this country together? It’s the people at the bottom of the barrel; the people being hit hardest by this pandemic. We say we love the NHS more than the Royal Family, more than the army, but do we love the people who keep the NHS alive? Because every time we tell people to f*ck off back to where they came from, that’s not what we’re saying.”
“So I really hope that this revelation, this awakening, opens our minds to that reality, to the stupidity of our prejudice. But I’m also very aware of people using it to their own ends. It does feel like a global reset for our economy, for our spirituality, for our politics. It can be overwhelming to go about laying the foundations for a fairer, balanced, sustainable world for the planet,” the actor added.
Ahmed gave a typically politically-charged and passionate interview to Deadline earlier this year ahead of the Berlinale premiere of his latest feature Mogul Mowgli, which he co-wrote and starred in, playing a rapper on the cusp of fame who is suddenly struck down by a debilitating illness.