A friend of Shila Iqbal claims she is the "least racist person" anyone has ever met.
The "Emmerdale" star was sacked from the ITV soap - on which she portrayed Aiesha Richards - this week over tweets posted in 2014, but her pal Amy Spinks insists a message has been "taken out of context and used vindictively", and claims the actress has been the victim of "religious abuse" herself.
She said: "She is the least racist person you have ever met. Having met recently, she showed me the amount of hateful, awful, religious abuse she has received being a Muslim actress on this soap "Emmerdale". It was unfathomable."
Amy claims Shila has used the N-word with her friends of colour and says it "makes sense in their personal conversations".
She is quoted by The Sun Online as saying: "This doesn't excuse the use of the N-word, but if her friends of colour accept and use this word lovingly and jokingly between themselves.
"Of course it makes sense in their personal conversations."
"Emmerdale" confirmed yesterday (11.04.19) that Shila had been axed from the soap - just a month after her part was made permanent.
A representative for the show 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."
Shila shared an apology soon after news of her axing emerged.
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.
"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"...
"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."