Emmerdale has fired actress Shila Iqbal from the cast after discovering a series of social media posts using racist language dating back to 2013, ITV has confirmed.
Iqbal played Aiesha Richards, bubbly daughter of Manpreet Jutla (Rebecca Sarker), who had recently been promoted to being a cast regular on the soap having made her first appearance in July 2018.
ITV bosses immediately dismissed the star after the messages were brought to their attention. Iqbal has deleted her account on Twitter. It has emerged the posts were written in 2013 when the actress was aged 19 and studying at college in her home town of Rochdale.
In a statement via her representatives the actress has apologised profusely, saying: “I am terribly sorry and take full responsibility for my use of such inappropriate language. 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.”
She went on to reveal she has been in receipt of ‘hateful tweets’ with regard to being a Muslim in which she is accused of “sinful acts, promoting sin and deliberately going against the Quran,” and urged: “We live in sensitive times for members of all communities and especially those in multi-racial Rochdale where I grew up.
“I regret I 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 and well as in conversation.”
Have Emmerdale and ITV confirmed the decision to sack Shila Iqbal?
An Emmerdale spokesperson told RadioTimes.com today: “As a consequence of historic social media posts, Shila Iqbal has left her role as Aiesha Richards. The programme took the decision not to renew her contract as soon as these posts were brought to the company’s attention.”
In March, Iqbal was full of excitement as she spoke of becoming a full-time cast member on the Yorkshire-based soap. “I am over the moon to be back as a regular. My family love Emmerdale and to be appearing in a show that you’ve grown up watching, just feels like a dream! I’m really grateful to the producers for bringing me back, everyone has been lovely, especially my on screen family, who have just been so welcoming and have really made me feel at home.”
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