Entertainment & Arts

Shila Iqbal: Emmerdale actress fired over old tweets

Shila Iqbal briefly played Aiesha Richards Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Shila Iqbal briefly played Aiesha Richards

Actress Shila Iqbal has been fired from Emmerdale over historical offensive tweets, ITV has confirmed.

The star, who played Aiesha Richards on the soap, was only made a series regular at the end of March.

She said she was "terribly sorry" for using "inappropriate language" in tweets sent in 2013, when she was 19.

"As a consequence of historic social media posts, Shila Iqbal has left her role as Aiesha Richards on Emmerdale," a spokesperson for the show said.

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

ITV would not confirm what she had said in the messages, and the 24-year-old has deleted her Twitter account.

'Completely wrong'

In a statement, she said: "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 added: "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."

She's the latest in a string of high-profile figures to find old tweets coming back to haunt them. Last month, an actress playing a gay character in a stage production of The Color Purple was sacked over homophobic comments she made five years ago.

Seyi Omooba, who was due to play the lead role of Celie, claimed the Bible made clear homosexuality was wrong in the eyes of God and that people could not be born gay.

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