Mahershala Ali wins Oscar for Moonlight, becomes the first Muslim to win the Award

Ali was nominated for the first time, for playing a Miami-based drug dealer who guides a young boy who is being bullied in the neighbourhood in the film

Mahershala Ali wins Oscar for Moonlight, becomes the first Muslim to win the Award

Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win the Oscar by winning the golden statuette for Best Supporting actor for his portrayal of a drug dealer in Moonlight.

Ali was nominated for the first time, for playing a Miami-based drug dealer who guides a young boy who is being bullied in the neighbourhood in the film.




2016 has been a breakthrough year for Ali, who starred in the Netflix series Luke Cage and also had a role in another Oscar-nominated film, Hidden Figures.

The 43-year-old actor gave credits to his teachers and Moonlight director Barry Jenkins in his acceptance speech and thanked his wife, who gave birth to their daughter four days ago.

Moonlight shows the three chapters in the life of Chiron, an African American boy struggling to find his space in the society and coming to recognise his sexuality as he grows up in a troubled neighbourhood of Miami.

In the film, Ali portrays the conflicted neighbourhood dealer Juan, who takes Chiron under his guidance.

Ali's mother is a Christian minister, who converted to Islam in 1999 and joined the minority Ahmadiyya Community, a dissident movement seen by som other Islamic sects in 2001.

The actor said during SAG awards that his mother "didn't do back flips" when he converted to Islam but both of them quickly realised "that stuff is minutiae, it's not that important".

"We see what happens when you persecute people - they fold into themselves," Ali said at the SAG Awards.

Many Muslims have won the Academy Awards in the past, including Pakistani documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, but this is the first time a Muslim won the golden statuette for acting.

Ali's victory was also a great honour for the African-American community, as he was the first to win the award since Forest Whitaker won top acting honours for 2006's The Last King of Scotland.

The actor's nomination was one of several for artists of colour this year, a reversal from last year's all white slate of nominees that provoked a backlash, #OscarsSoWhite.