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Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali Gives Powerful 2017 SAG Awards Speech: ‘I’m a Muslim’

Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali tearfully spoke about the current political state and his conversion to Islam while accepting the award for best supporting actor at the 2017 SAG Awards in L.A. on Sunday, January 29. Watch the video above.

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“I think what I have learned from working on Moonlight, you see what happens in persecution. What I was so grateful about and having the opportunity was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community, and taking that opportunity to uplift him and tell him he mattered, that he was OK. And accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that,” Ali, 42, who plays a drug dealer in the drama, said at the Shrine Auditorium. 

Mahershala Ali accepts the award for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for 'Moonlight,' onstage during the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Expo Hall on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Mahershala Ali accepts the award for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for ‘Moonlight’ during the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Expo Hall on Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. Kevork Djansezian/WireImage

“We kind of 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 an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique, and then there’s the opportunity to go to war about it. And to say that that person is different than me and I don’t like you, so let’s battle,” he continued. “My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. You put things to the side, and I’m able to see her and she’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. And that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”

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Ali’s remarks come two days after President Donald Trump signed a travel ban that blocked refugees and immigrants of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days. On Saturday, a New York federal judge ruled that authorities cannot deport individuals with valid visas. 

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Several other stars took a stand against Trump on Sunday night, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bryan Cranston, Kerry Washington and Ashton Kutcher.

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