Fired 'Emmerdale' star Shila Iqbal offers explanation for her racist and homophobic tweets

Chris Edwards
Shila Iqbal described her old offensive tweets as ‘banter’

Former Emmerdale star Shila Iqbal has come under heavy criticism for “excusing” racist and homophobic tweets she posted back in 2013, which led to her being fired from the ITV soap.

Appearing on This Morning today, the Aiesha Richards actress claimed that the racist and homophobic slurs she used at the time were no longer in her vocabulary and that the tweets were just “banter”.

Read more: The tweets that got Shila Iqbal fired from ‘Emmerdale’ have been revealed

“I felt like I was dreaming. I do not condone the use of those words. They’re not in my vocabulary anymore. For them to be there in front of me, I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was completely wrong for me to do so,” she told hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.

“I think at the time there was no malicious intent behind the tweets. It was a conversation, banter, between my group of friends.

“It was heavily influenced by the hip hop and rap music we listened to. I did use it freely, but very wrongly. I didn’t understand the true meaning and hurt behind the words.”

After Schofield asked her if she thought she should still be judged for comments she made when she was 18-years-old, Iqbal replied: “To be honest I think if the person has changed and shown remorse then no you shouldn’t be judged on that. You should be judged as the person you are today.

“I know I have made a terrible mistake but I want to use my negative situation to bring positives and raise awareness for the young regeneration.”

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The actress went on to question her sacking from the ITV soap, arguing it was unfair to judge her on comments she made as teenager and that she didn’t think she was abusing anyone.

Some viewers used Twitter to criticise Iqbal for excusing her own behaviour and showing “no remorse”. 

Iqbal’s dismissal from the soap was recently confirmed by an ITV spokesperson, who said: “As a consequence of historic social media posts Shila Iqbal has left her role as Aiesha Richards on Emmerdale.

“The programme took the decision not to renew her contract as soon as these posts were brought to the company’s attention.”