Muslim 'Moonlight' Actor Shares The Importance of Religious Acceptance in SAG Awards Speech

January 30th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

In the wake of controversial executive orders about refugees and immigration from President Donald Trump, the star of the critically acclaimed film "Moonlight" revealed a lesson he learned from his Christian mother at the SAG Awards Sunday night. 

Mahershala Ali, who plays a Miami drug dealer named Juan in the award-winning film, took the stage after winning a SAG award for Best Supporting Actor, and shared his experience of converting to Islam nearly two decades ago. He also discussed the importance of religious acceptance. 

Ali's words came just two days after Trump signed an executive order Friday which banned refugees and immigrants from majority Muslim countries from entering the U.S., which caused confusion and delays for dual citizens. Trump's travel ban has suspended the U.S. admission of refugees for 120 days, and it's created an indefinite ban for Syrian refugees. The visas of travelers who are not diplomats, coming from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, will be suspended for 90 days. 

In light of the protests across the country in response to Trump's latest executive orders, the "House of Cards" actor stressed the importance of religious acceptance in his speech. He said that there are two ways of viewing people who may be different from you:

"When we kind of get caught up in the minutiae, the details that make us all different, there's two ways of seeing that: there's an opportunity to see the texture of that person-- the characteristics that make them unique, and then there's an opportunity to go to war about it, and to say that, 'That person is different from, and I don't like you so let's battle.'"

Ali went on to explain that his relationship with his mother, a Christian minister, is proof that it's possible to have meaningful and loving relationships with someone of a different faith. 

"My mother is an ordained minister. I'm a Muslim. She didn't do back flips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you know, we put things to the side, and I'm able to see her. She's able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown, and that stuff is minutiae. It's not that important."

Watch the clip of Mahershala Ali's acceptance speech below: 


A moving speech by Mahershala Ali #sagawards

Posted by Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, January 29, 2017

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