New Characters in ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 Might Change The Game For Muslim Representation On TV

Comic-adapted AMC TV serie The Walking Dead broadcasted their season 8 premier last month. Aside from the non-stop action and horrifying character deaths, The Walking Dead is noted for its inclusive and diverse cast. The survivors of the apocalypse are ethnically diverse, and there are plenty of LBGTQ characters in the main storyline as well. The best of it all is that these characters aren’t just tokens but fully fleshed-out with their own histories, storylines and goals on a top-rated TV show.

The introduction of a new Muslim character for season 8

Back in April, it was revealed that AMC was casting two new male characters for season 8 of The Walking Dead. One of those characters was named ‘Abbud’ in the casting call. TVLine reported that Abbud will be “an innately likable Muslim American whose nerves are, let’s say, jangled, because he’s flown solo for too long in zombieland”. Fan theories started to point the many hints in the teaser trailer that the new character Abbud could be the TV counterpart of the Arab-American comic character Siddiq who was also Muslim.

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During the season 8 premiere, amidst all the chaos in the fight against Negan (sorry for the spoiler!), viewers met a new character who uttered the episode’s title, “Mercy”. The character, played by actor Avi Nash, was heard more than he was seen, and did not get name-checked during his time onscreen.

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The hungry survivor quotes an Islamic religious text which signified to many fans that this new character unmistakably must be the live-action counterpart of the comic protagonist Siddiq even if his name is changed in the AMC series adaptation.

Abbud is not the first Muslim character

In episode 13 of season 7, The Walking Dead introduced a brandnew hijab-wearing character named Nabila, played by actress Nadine Marissa.

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It’s hard to know for certain what Nabila’s religion is without the character explicitly stating it, however, it’s probable that her character is the first Muslim-American to have appeared in the series. Nevertheless, the response on social media of her introduction were highly enthusiastic:

Showrunner Scott Gimple who wrote the episode told Yahoo! TV that he “hope[d] we haven’t seen that last of [Nabila]. I loved what she did. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Nabila.”

Let’s hope Nabila and Abbud open the door towards more positive Muslim representation!

This article is written by Siham Machkour

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