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Former Loose Women panellist Saira Khan has revealed she is no longer a practising Muslim in an admission she described as a “huge relief”.
The 50-year-old TV personality told the Mirror she felt that acknowledging this fact was “the last taboo to overcome before I could live my best, most happy and fulfilled life”,
Khan was born in Derbyshire to Pakistani immigrant parents who were Muslims and said the “spiritual aspects” of her parents’ faith shaped her beliefs.
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She said she hoped she would no longer cause hurt to those who do follow Islam, by acknowledging that she does not live by its rules.
“My family mean the world to me, so I’ve pretended to be someone I’m not to make them happy. But the trouble is, when you live a lie you only hurt yourself,” she said.
The star added: “Saying I’m Muslim and then having a boyfriend behind closed doors, wearing clothes that go against the Muslim dress code, having a cheeky drink and living a non-Muslim life only brings guilt, self-loathing, loneliness and a feeling of being caged.
“I know that one of the reasons I have been so angry and unhappy in my life is because of the many contradictions I’ve had to live with.”
Khan said she felt that milestones, including marrying her husband Steve in 2005 and adopting a child, had “always been tinged with shame and guilt” due to the rules of the Islamic faith.
She confessed to fearing the death threats that have greeted women making similar admissions, but felt she had to reveal her truth.
“As a 50-year-old educated, independent woman with my own family and life experiences, I now have the courage to say that I’m not practising,” she said.
Khan rose to fame when she was a contestant on the first series of The Apprentice in 2005, finishing as the runner-up behind winner Tim Campbell.
She took on a number of hosting jobs and TV appearances, including a run on Celebrity Big Brother, before becoming a regular contributor on Loose Women from 2015.
Last month, Khan announced her departure from the Loose Women roster and subsequently confessed there were aspects of the show that “wasn’t making me happy”.
She has since revealed she would like her place on the show to be given to a member of the LGBT+ community.
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