Shila Iqbal, who played Aiesha Richards, was axed from Emmerdale following a series of historic tweets containing “racist and homophobic” terms. According to reports from the Daily Mail, ITV bosses took the decision to drop the actress after the social posts containing the N-word were brought to the attention of broadcaster. Iqbal, 24, posted the messages on Twitter six years ago while she was still at college aged 19 at the time.
Iqbal has since deleted her Twitter account, however, she posted a statement which was obtained by Express.co.uk.
The statement read: “I have paid the price and can no longer continue the job I loved the most at Emmerdale. Although I was young when I made the Tweets, it was still completely wrong of me to do so and I sincerely apologise…
“The only consideration I would ask is that I have recently received hateful tweets telling me that as a Muslim my Emmerdale role means that I am ‘committing sinful acts, promoting sin and deliberately going against the Quran’.
“We live in sensitive times for members of all communities and especially those in multi-racial Rochdale where I grew up.
“I regret that I too have let people down by the use of such language, albeit six years ago. I, like everyone else have a responsibility about the language I have used on social media as well as in conversation.”
WHY WAS SHILA IQBAL FIRED FROM EMMERDALE?
What did the Shila Iqbal tweets say?
Iqbal has deleted her account but some of the tweets were screen-grabbed before.
The tweets from 2013 contained the N-word and were homophobic.
One tweet read from Iqbal: “Do not tweet me you gay.”
Another Twitter post read: “I know too many noisy n****s.”
Iqbal previously hit out at ITV over its decision, claiming: “It was easy for them to let go of me and I suppose make an example of me.
WHO PLAYS AIESHA RICHARDS IN EMMERDALE?
“Going forward, the bosses could maybe think about talking to that individual properly and really understanding them and not taking immediate action.
She added to The Sun: “I was remorseful, and I think that should have been taken into account with my young age and the fact that I wasn’t a professional actor at that age.”
An ITV spokesperson responded to the claims: “We offered Shila Iqbal support when this situation happened.
“We asked her if there was anyone we could contact who could come in and support her, a relative or friend. We also said she could call any of us at any time. She repeatedly said she was fine and didn’t want any help.
“We also immediately contacted her agent who offered her advice and support.”
Iqbal has since appeared on This Morning to address the controversy.
Speaking to ITV hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, she said: “I think ITV have a moral obligation to do what’s right by the public and I respect their decision.”
The actress continued: “But I do question is it fair that I’m being judged on something I did as a teenager if we look at the context and the intentions, I wasn’t hurling abuse at anyone.”
“I think at the time there was no malicious intent in those tweets, it was banter in a way between my friends,”
She said she’d been influenced by the language used in hip-hop and rap music that she listened to as a teen.
Iqbal added: “I don’t think I understood the true meanings behind them [words].”
Emmerdale continues on ITV tonight at 7pm & 8pm
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