Riz Ahmed Reveals He Lost 2 Family Members to COVID-19

riz Ahmed

British Pakistani “Venom” actor Riz Ahmed has revealed that he lost two family members to COVID-19.

In an interview with GQ Hype, the 37-year-old “The Night Of” star broke the news a few weeks after he first spoke to the magazine on April 23 in a WhatsApp message.

“Since we spoke I have lost two family members to Covid,” he said. “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 announced his uncle’s passing on April 8 and described him as a “legend in his community who will be missed by so many.”


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Heartbroken to say that my uncle Shakeel passed away this weekend due to Covid-19. He was a legend in his community who will be missed by so many. A charismatic storyteller, he could strike up a conversation with anyone and soon have them in tears of one kind or another – either laughing from his unique turn of phrase, or meditating on his spiritual insights. His journey was the journey of my people – born in India, then moved to Pakistan, then England. He was an immigrant, then a teddy-boy in silk shirts and medallions, then a banker, and finally a devoted spiritual guide who went out of his way for others. He fought on til the end, outliving multiple terminal diagnoses for years, and finally passing away while prostrating (in sajda) for dawn (fajr) prayers in the hospital prayer room. It was a fittingly poetic end for a man who had lyrics for days, and whose faith gave him and so many others such strength. Here he is on his 60th birthday with his twin brother Javed. ⁣ ⁣ When this is over, we must ensure that our losses have not been in vain. We must help to build a more just and caring society. As he said – “may all your dreams come true. And when they do, hope you don’t mind sharing.” Please keep your elders safe, and please donate to help build that fairer future now. Links in Story. ⁣

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Ahmed views the pandemic as something on a level of an “alien invasion” where humanity comes together to fight a common enemy.

“So there is this potential for this momentous, unique-in-the-history-of-our-species moment, of us all going through this crazy challenge together and only being able to get through this together.”

“And yet, in the midst of that, insofar as any crisis is a mirror, reflecting your priorities and patterns, this crisis is reflecting and revealing the faultlines in our society,” Ahmed said. “The broken records that are stuck in our head, the f***eries and the power plays that are still dominating how we are running our planet, the rising intolerance.”


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Ahmed, who was born in London to a British Pakistani family, also talked about the political side of the pandemic, mainly India, Donald Trump and Hungary.

“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,” he said. “Trump is using it as an excuse to try to ban immigration and the Hungarian government is centralizing power off the back of this.”

The actor also discussed the prejudice surrounding the pandemic and is affecting the minorities.

“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 UK’s 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 fuck off back to where they came from, that’s not what we’re saying,” Ahmed added. “So I really hope that this revelation, this awakening, opens our minds to that reality, to the stupidity of our prejudice.”

Feature Image via @rizahmed

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