Saira Khan 'receives threats' after saying she is not a practising Muslim

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Image caption,
Saira Khan was the runner-up in the first season of The Apprentice in 2005

TV presenter Saira Khan has said she received death threats after revealing she is not a practising Muslim.

The former Loose Women panellist clarified her faith earlier this week in a column for The Daily Mirror.

"The problem for women like me, who have a Muslim name and are of Asian heritage, is that others make assumptions about us before we even open our mouths," she said.

In an Instagram Live on Monday, Khan said she had received death threats.

She also posted a statement on her account which said she had been abused and trolled online.

Khan shot to fame as a contestant on The Apprentice. She has since appeared on Dancing on Ice and Celebrity Big Brother.

For the last five years she has been a regular panellist on ITV's Loose Women, but she stepped down from her role in December.

What did Saira Khan say?

In a newspaper column, the broadcaster said she wanted to clarify her stance "for [her] own wellbeing".

"I feel that by saying this as a public figure, I will no longer inadvertently confuse or unintentionally hurt others of the Muslim faith," she wrote.

"People assume that because we have Muslim parents we are practising Muslims, that we have read the Quran, that we fast every Ramadan, that we don't drink, that we don't have sex before marriage."

Khan said many aspects of her lifestyle did not fit with Islam, such as wearing clothes that go against the accepted dress code, drinking alcohol and having a boyfriend "behind closed doors".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Khan previously appeared alongside Linda Robson, Andrea McLean and Coleen Nolan on Loose Women

The broadcaster, who is of Pakistani heritage, also highlighted that she had adopted a child and had not followed Islamic rules on her daughter's inheritance rights.

She continued: "I respect people who have Islam in their lives - some are the most humble people I know.

"However, I don't share their conviction. I've tried hard over many years, not for myself, but for my parents and the wider family."

She said that having been brought up in a practising Muslim family, "most of my values are based on the spiritual aspects of the Muslim faith. But I'm also influenced by other spiritual teachings".

What was the reaction to the column?

Khan took part in an Instagram Live broadcast on Monday evening, during which she said she had received death threats since the publication of her article.

On Tuesday, she posted a statement on Instagram reiterating that she has "been sent threats, abuse and been trolled".

"Why my personal choice of how I choose to live my life should stir such hatred in others is incomprehensible to me," she said.

But, the presenter added, she had also received support from several followers. She shared screengrabs of some messages she had been sent.

Khan said she had been "contacted by so many women in the last 24 hours documenting their fears for wanting to live their life how they wish".

"Whilst I like to keep things upbeat and positive, I cannot forget that I as a woman have a duty on my platform to help other women.

"We don't need to look the same in order to feel each other's pain. I feel your pain if you are hurt."

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