Mahershala Ali wins Oscar; Pakistani’s UN representative deletes congratulatory tweet after finding out Ali’s the “wrong kind of Muslim”

It’s not just Leftist apologists who claim to know who “real Muslims” are, dismissing those who practice or espouse terrorism, for instance, as “not real Muslims,” or “not practicing true Islam.” Muslims themselves are even stronger discriminators, and that’s been true since Shia and Sunni split centuries ago. In fact, members of different sects regularly kill each other for being the “wrong kind of Muslim.”

But there’s another kind of Muslim subject to demonization: the practitioners of Ahmadiyya, a form of Islam that began recently: in Punjab in the 19th century. The discipline follows the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908). Followers are called Ahmedis (or Ahmadis), and Sunnis, at least, don’t see them as real Muslims. In fact, the Constitution of Pakistan explicitly declares Ahmedis to be non-Muslims.

As you may know, the actor Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance in Moonlight. However, Ali is an Ahmadi, i.e., not a “real” Muslim. (He converted after being raised a Christian in California.)

This led to some awkwardness. For instance, the Pakistani director Hamaz Ali Abbasi congratulated Ali on his Oscar, but then felt it necessary to point out their religious differences in a tw**t:

That’s absurd. Can you imagine an Episcopalian congratulating a Catholic or a Methodist who won an Oscar by noting that “well, you believe you’re a Christian, but I strongly disagree”? They may think that, but I doubt you’d see it tweeted, much less used as a basis for murder. To see the extent of the rancor against Ahmedis, read Maajid Nawaz’s Daily Beast article about the murder of Asad Shah, an Ahmedi who was murdered—in Scotland—by a Sunni who, like Pakistani Sunnis, consider Ahmedis as blasphemers.  In that article Nawaz shows how far the oppression of Ahmedis has gone in Pakistan, and, along the way, shows how radicalized British Muslims are:

Any British dual-national seeking to apply for a passport, or even an identity card, to travel to Pakistan visa-free is asked to partake in the persecution. Upon applying for our papers we are expected to sign a declaration (PDF) attesting— among other religious interferences by the state—that “I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Quadiani [the faith’s founder] to be an imposter nabi (prophet) and also consider his followers whether of the Lahori or Qadiani group to be non-Muslim.” Hundreds of thousands of British-Pakistani Muslims have had little choice but to participate in this ritual that normalizes the Blasphemy Inquisition, in order to gain their identity cards.

If we contextualize Asad Shah’s murder by placing it in this hostile climate, as we must, then we begin to realize the horrifying level of persecution facing those deemed heretical, such as Ahmedis or other “blasphemers.”

Over the years, in survey after survey, British Muslim attitudes have reflected dangerously high levels of support for enforcing “blasphemy” taboos. A 2007 poll found that 36 percent of young British Muslims thought that apostates should be killed. A 2008 YouGov poll found that a third of Muslim students claimed that killing for religion can be justified, while 33 percent expressed a desire to see the return of a worldwide theocratic Caliphate. A ComRes poll commissioned by the BBC in 2015 found that a quarter of British Muslims sympathized with the Charlie Hebdo “blasphemy” attacks.

Here’s Nawaz’s own tweet calling attention to Ali’s faith, but not in a nasty way:

The upshot: as reported in several places, including the Express Tribune (mentioned by Nawaz in a subsequent tw**t), Maleeha Lodi, a Pakistani political scientist who is her country’s first female representaive to the United Nations, at first tweeted a proud encomium for Ali, but then deleted it. She apparently didn’t realize that Ali wasn’t a “real Muslim” according to her country’s laws. Nothing to be proud of, then!

Here’s the deleted tweet as reproduced in the Hindustan Times:


I wonder if the tweet would have been deleted had Ali been a Shia Muslim? But no matter; it shows that even a single “faith” is irreparably divided. But beyond getting the Oscar, Ali is lucky in another way: he lives in the U.S., where he’s unlikely to be killed for his blasphemy.

Here’s Nawaz’s own tweet, saying that the deleted congratulations was as if he “saw the future”:


  1. Randy schenck
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Another fine post and good example of the dirty side of religion that deserves no apologies.

  2. Posted February 28, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    In an earlier thread I recalled that the director of Boys Don’t Cry – a previous independent movie lauded for addressing monority concerns – found herself on the wrong side of history when identity politics shifted further to the left.

    At least she had a few years before the tide changed.

    A British newspaper recently apologised for referring to Ahmadis as Muslims when Muslims protested. I can see Ben Afleck apologising on behalf of Hollywood soon enough.

    • pdmanson
      Posted March 1, 2017 at 3:43 am | Permalink

      “A British newspaper recently apologised for referring to Ahmadis as Muslims when Muslims protested.”
      I wasn’t aware of that. That is revolting.

  3. Bob MURRAY
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Well now I am confused. Who is the Islamophobe? Hmmmm.

  4. busterggi
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    “Can you imagine an Episcopalian congratulating a Catholic or a Methodist who won an Oscar by noting that “well, you believe you’re a Christian, but I strongly disagree”?”

    Actually I could before Roe v. Wade and Reagan ‘united’ all ‘Chrisitans’. This was more polite than USJesusians used to be towards one another.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted February 28, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Actually, almost every large religion is characterized by a lot of internal divisions, although they don’t always fight one another. (There are nearly two dozen versions of Taoism, but they are not at each other claiming to be “true” Taoism.)

      The congrats here are due to Islam being a minority religion in the US.

      Episcopalians & Methodists have been historically inclusive allowing anyone who calls themselves a Christian to be acknowledged as one. In the pre-religious right days, Catholics and evangelicals were more likely to level such charges (especially against each other).

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    “Religion poisons everything”

    -Christopher Hitchens

  6. Posted February 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m just thankful he wasn’t wearing a hajib, what the funk has a religion got to do with Oscar winning. If he we’re from Mongolia, which is a race, fair enough, a rare thing but he is hardly the first Californian to win one, so let’s make something out of literally nothing. This reliigion crap should be in his bio for those interested in his personal details. Who was the first Catholic to win, who was the first atheist, Presbyterian, JW…. nevermind, Islam has managed once again to show it’s nasty side, even if it is in this case, petty but the wider picture is not.

  7. rickflick
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    The world of Islam is still dragging it’s sorry ass out of the 7th century while most everyone else watches from the balcony. There doesn’t seem to be an effective way for civilization to penetrate the veil in a useful way. Nawaz is fighting an uphill battle, moving a mountain with a sugar spoon.

    • David Evans
      Posted February 28, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      We need not go as far back as the 7th century. Catholics and Protestants were killing each other in 16th century England, not to mention 20th century Ireland.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 28, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Hopefully Islam will not require 1000 years to catch up.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    The pettiness of the religious never ceases to amaze.

  9. johndhynes
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    A better analogy might be the Mormons.

    • eric
      Posted February 28, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Maybe, but again, even if some Protestant or RCC official were to think that, they almost certainly wouldn’t bother mentioning it in an Oscar congratulations. They just wouldn’t consider it the right ‘forum’ to discuss religious differences.

      Maybe an even better analogy is to Scientology. I suspect there probably have been tweets analogous to this, when the award winner is Cruise or Travolta or someone like that. “Congrats on your win! Scientology is bunk” or whatever. I don’t actually know of any tweets like that, but I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if there were some.

    • flies01
      Posted February 28, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      “Can you imagine an Episcopalian congratulating a Catholic or a Methodist who won an Oscar by noting that “well, you believe you’re a Christian, but I strongly disagree”? They may think that, but I doubt you’d see it tweeted, much less used as a basis for murder.”

      Many Christian sects declare Mormonism to be non-Christian. So while I can’t imagine an episcopalian behaving so to a catholic, I can imagine a Baptist saying that to a Mormon.

  10. Alan
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Encomium. New word, thanks!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Just don’t pull a Pastor Spooner and mix it up with “meconium.” 🙂

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted March 1, 2017 at 3:57 am | Permalink

        I wish you hadn’t made me look that up 🙂

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 1, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          When I was in the delivery room for my firstborn, the obstetrician (who had a slight accent) was explaining what was going on, and I thought she said “encomium.” I was like WTF, that ain’t encomium where I come from.

  11. Posted February 28, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Not to mention the important physicist Dr. Abdus Salam, whose shabby treatment by his home country continued after his death. Pakistan ended up putting his face on a stamp, while also officially defacing his tombstone.

    • nicky
      Posted February 28, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, you beat me to it. Crossed comments.

  12. nicky
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Mohammad Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s only Nobel prize winner in Physics (and one of only three Muslim Nobel laureates in science, there were also an Egyptian and a Turk in Chemistry), was an Ahmadi too.
    IIRC he fled Pakistan after the Ahmadiyya sect was declared non-Muslim by the Pakistani Government (which he had served so well) in the ’70s.
    [Not long after his death in 1996, however, the Pakistan Govt, issued a commemorative stamp.]

    • Posted February 28, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Apologies for beating you to it.

      • nicky
        Posted February 28, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        On the contrary, it is good to see several of us remembered Dr Abdus Salam was an Ahmadi, and accordingly treated shabbily.

  13. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    ‘Will the real Muslim please stand up?’
    ‘Anybody else?’

    Sorry ’bout that


  14. Doug
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    How do these Muslims feel about the fact that he won the award for playing a gay man? Or do they know that?

    • Mokopo
      Posted March 3, 2017 at 2:12 am | Permalink

      He did not play a gay man; he played a mentor, of Father-figure, to a young man who later had a gay encounter.

  15. Diane G.
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 12:24 am | Permalink


  16. pdmanson
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    The man who murdered the Ahmadi shopkeeper in Scotland is being hailed as “a defender of Islam” in Pakistan, with demonstrations outside his family home in Kashmir claiming him as “brave” and “courageous”. The demonstrations are arranged by an anti-blasphemy religious group who support another killer who murdered a politician who wanted to reform Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. The full report from today is on the BBC website

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted March 1, 2017 at 4:09 am | Permalink

      Yes, i heard that on Radio 4 Today this morning. It’s just disgusting.

      Ali is lucky in another way: he lives in the U.S., where he’s unlikely to be killed for his blasphemy.

      I might have said the same thing about Scotland before this happened. Murderer Tanveer Ahmed deliberately drove to Glasgow from Bradford to carry out his attack so it was clearly premeditated.

      As Ahmed was led away in court [in Glasgow], he raised a clenched fist and shouted loudly: “Praise for the Prophet Muhammad, there is only one Prophet.” Some of his supporters responded by raising their arms and repeating the phrase.

      Don’t be sure it can’t happen anywhere.

  17. Christopher Bonds
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    My consciousness about Ahmadi version of Islam was recently raised when I began to take an interest in jazz musician Yusef Lateef. Several other jazz musicians have converted to the faith, including Ahmad Jamal and Art Blakey.

  18. Dn
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 3:58 am | Permalink

    As much as I don’t care about this and I am a closet Pakistani aethiest. I have to say Ahmedia are more like Mormons to christians. The muslim belief is that Muhammad is the last prophet if you don’t believe that you are not a muslim. So in that sense Ahmedia are not Muslims just like Muslims are not Jewish as they don’t believe Moses was the last. The main reason for the hate and ostracization of Ahmedi Muslims is Saudis as they forced Pakistan to name their religion in passports as Ahmedi Muslims were visiting holy sites in Suadia which saudia didn’t like. Even the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah followed a sect of Islam that the majority of Pakistani Muslims would not accept him as a muslim but that part of his life has been removed from our history books.
    The world we live in today I feel Bin Ladin won hateful right wingers have come in power in the west and non Muslim countries. And in Muslim countries the worst form possible of Islam has spread.

%d bloggers like this: