Azeem Rafiq apologises for antisemitic messages sent in 2011 - 'I am ashamed'

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Azeem Rafiq has apologised for sending antisemitic messages in 2011 in a post on social media.

The former cricketer, who has been at the centre of revealing the recent racism scandal which has sent shockwaves through the game, posted a statement on Twitter.

He said he was "ashamed" of messages he sent more than a decade ago when he was 19-years-old and apologised to the Jewish community.

The messages, seen by The Times, appear to have been sent between Rafiq and former Warwickshire and Leicestershire player Ateeq Javid.

WARNING: This article contains images of racist language

According to the newspaper, the messages were sent about another Asian cricketer, with Rafiq making disparaging comments.

Tweeting about the old messages on Thursday, Rafiq wrote: "I have gone back to check my account and it is me - I have absolutely no excuses.

"I am ashamed of this exchange and have now deleted it so as not to cause further offence. I was 19 at the time and I hope and believe I am a different person today.

"I am incredibly angry at myself and I apologise to the Jewish community and everyone who is rightly offended by this."

He later tweeted another apology, saying: "At no point will I ever try and defend the indefensible.

"For those I have hurt I am sincerely sorry. I will continue to front up & own any more mistakes I have made."

Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl said his apology "seems heartfelt".

She said: "Azeem Rafiq has suffered terribly at the hands of racists in cricket so he will well understand the hurt this exchange will cause to Jews who have supported him.

"His apology certainly seems heartfelt and we have no reason to believe he is not completely sincere."

Warwickshire chairman Mark McCafferty also in a statement: "We are aware of the messages exchanged by Azeem Rafiq and former Warwickshire player Ateeq Javid in 2011.

"Warwickshire CCC is deeply concerned by comments that have been used in this reported exchange. Whilst Ateeq left Warwickshire in 2017, he still has close connections with the club and within our local community.

"We have already spoken briefly with Ateeq and will have a more detailed conversation to understand the nature of the exchange and how he or anyone else at Warwickshire became involved.

"Warwickshire CCC is determined to reflect the communities that we serve at every level, with Edgbaston being a safe and welcoming place for all. We will not let anything that's taken place at the club, past or present, detract from this."

It comes after Rafiq told MPs he felt "isolated, humiliated at times" due to the bombardment of racism he suffered and the "constant uses of the word p***'" during his time at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

The 30-year-old had said it was "time for truths" as he gave evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee hearing in Westminster.

He told the panel earlier this week that he hoped to become "a voice for the voiceless" by going public with his allegations.

Rafiq, who has been involved in cricket in Yorkshire since the age of 11, talked openly and candidly about his experiences.

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At one point, he broke down in tears as he spoke of the "inhuman" treatment he suffered when his son was stillborn.

Rafiq, who had two spells at Headingley between 2008 and 2018, initially voiced his claims in an interview with Sky News in September 2020, alleging "deep rooted" racism at the club left him close to taking his own life.

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