Islamabad, February 28 (Express Tribune):Controversy arose in Pakistan after Mahershala Ali — who won the best supporting actor Oscar on Sunday for his portrayal of a drug dealer in coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” — was given the title of the first ‘Muslim’ film star to pick up a golden statuette.
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi was forced to delete a congratulatory tweet when people on Twitter began pointing out that Mahershala Ali was an Ahmadi.
Article 260-3 of Pakistan’s Constitution declares Ahmadis “non-Muslims”. The amendment made this exclusion legally in that the phrase “for the purposes of the constitution or law” was used when rendering them non-Muslims.
The deleted tweet and Ali’s Ahmadi religion immediately caught the attention of many on Twitter.
Barry Jenkins’s “Moonlight” tells the life story of a young African-American struggling to find his place as he grows up in a rough neighbourhood of Miami.
Muslims have won Oscars in various categories over the years — including Pakistani documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and feature director Asghar Farhadi — but none has taken a statuette for acting.
Ellen Burstyn, who won a best actress Oscar in 1975, has practised a blend of Sufism and other religions since her late 30s but has said she considers herself a “spirit open to the truth” rather than a Muslim.
(The featured image at the top is that of Oscar winner Mahershala Ali)