‘It’s scary to be a Muslim': Riz Ahmed says he missed 'Star Wars' event due to airport screening

Emmy winner tells a panel he was stopped by Homeland Security before boarding a flight – and that it's not a first-time experience

Riz Ahmed of Britain poses for pictures during a presentation of Shooting Stars, a selection of upcoming actors, at the 62th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 13, 2012.   REUTERS/Thomas Peter (GERMANY  - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) *** Local Caption ***  TPE18_GERMANY-FILM-_0213_11.JPG

When the Star Wars Celebration Convention was held in Chicago this April, there was one famous face missing.

And now Riz Ahmed, who plays pilot Bodhi Rook in the sci-fi franchise, has now opened up about why he missed his scheduled appearance.

The British-Pakistani actor, 36, revealed during a panel discussion last week that he was prevented from boarding a flight to the Illinois city by Homeland Security.

“[Hasan Minhaj] can win a Peabody, I can win an Emmy, Ibtihaj Muhammad can go to the Olympics, but some of these obstacles are systemic and we can’t really face them alone, we need your help,” Ahmed said while leading a panel about Muslim representation in Hollywood at the CAA Amplify leadership summit.

The actor, who in 2017 won an Emmy for his performance in HBO mini-series The Night Of, added that it wasn't the first time he'd been stopped for extra security measures, even since he became a recognisable traveller.

"The same people swabbing me for explosives want selfies," he joked, according to the LA Times.

Ahmed added that prejudicial treatment at airports is just one reason "it’s really scary to be a Muslim right now".

"I’ve often wondered, is this going to be the year when they round us up, if this is going to be the year they put Trump’s registry into action. If this is going to be the year they ship us all off," he said.

Homeland Security has not responded to requests for comment on the incident.

During the panel discussion, Ahmed also warned the film industry to show more care in how Muslims are represented on screen, telling attendees: "I think lives are quite literally at stake here."

"The representation of Muslims on screen – that feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded," he said, according to The Daily Mail.

The Four Lions actor has previously spoken out about the problematic nature of not championing diversity on-screen, delivering a speech to Britain's House of Commons in 2017.

“It takes American remakes of British shows to cast someone like me,” he stated in the lecture. “We end up going to America to find work. I meet with producers and directors here and they say, 'We don’t have anything for you, all our stories are set in Cornwall in the 1600s’.”