Rami Malek says that when approached by Bond directer Cary Fukunaga, he wanted to clarify that his character (the film's villain) was not a religious extremist. Malek said, "We cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion. That’s not something I would entertain, so if that is why I am your choice then you can count me out." Malek, who is of Egyptian heritage, doesn't want to contribute to any stereotypes about the Middle East and has said he doesn't want to play an Arabic-speaking terrorist after playing a suicide bomber in 24.
He says that the way the character is written, he is a "different kind of terrorist."
Malek is very proud of his Egyptian heritage. He had previously said "I am Egyptian. I grew up listening to Egyptian music. I loved Omar Sharif. These are my people. I feel so gorgeously tied to the culture and the human beings that exist there."
Sources: 1 | 2 | 3