Moonlight star Mahershala Ali delivered the most emotional speech at Sunday night’s (29Jan17) Screen Actors Guild Awards as he urged Americans to find peace among each other.
As the nation protested new leader Donald Trump‘s Muslim travel ban on people from Iran, Iraq, Syria and four other countries, Ali stood on the SAG Awards stage in Los Angeles and declared, “I’m a Muslim”, as he accepted the trophy for best male actor in a supporting role.
— SAG Awards® (@SAGawards) January 30, 2017
He fought back proud tears as he continued, “When we get caught up in the minutiae and the details that make us all different, I think there’s two ways of seeing that – there’s the 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 say that this person is different from me, I don’t like you, let’s battle.”
He explained his mother, an ordained minister, “didn’t do backflips” when he told her he had converted to Islam, but added they were able to “put things to the side” and “we love each other”.
Ali’s speech came amid growing protests against Trump’s executive order, which bans citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days.
While the actor was onstage in Los Angeles, news broke that at least five people had been killed during a shoot-out at the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center in Canada.
There were several anti-Trump and pro-immigration protests at the SAG Awards on Sunday night – Kerry Washington, Ashton Kutcher, and Sarah Paulson were among the celebrities who made their feelings known at the prizegiving, and The Big Bang Theory star Simon Helberg and his wife Jocelyn Towne made political statements on the red carpet with signs.
He carried one that read: “REFUGEES WELCOME”, while his wife had “LET THEM IN” written in bold letters across her chest.