Shila Iqbal questions 'fairness' of Emmerdale firing
23 April 2019 - 12:00 PM

Shila Iqbal questions 'fairness' of Emmerdale firing

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Shila Iqbal has questioned whether it was "fair" for "Emmerdale" to axe her over past tweets.

The 24-year-old actress was sacked from the ITV soap - on which she portrayed Aiesha Richards - earlier this month after it was revealed she had posted controversial tweets in 2012, but she insists there was "no malicious intent" behind the messages, and the star believes she should be judged on "the person you are today".

Asked on "This Morning" if she has been treated "fairly", she said: "It's a tricky one. I think ITV have a moral obligation to do what's right by the public and I respect their decision ... but I do question, "Is it fair that I've been judged on something I did as a teenager?"

"If we do look at the context and the intentions, there was no negative intention behind there. I wasn't hurling abuse at anyone. I made a mistake, and that is not who I am.

"I think if the person has changed and shown remorse, and attitudes have changed, then no you shouldn't be judged on that.

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"You should be judged on the person you are today."

When asked by co-host Phillip Schofield if Shila felt it was "OK in [her] head to say those words" when she wrote the tweets, which he said were described as "racist and homophobic", she said: "I think at the time, there was no malicious intent behind the tweets.

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"It was a conversation, banter in a way, between my group of friends.

"It was heavily influenced by the music, the hip hop and rap music we listened to, and our surroundings. And that did help determine the language we did use, and we did use it freely, although very wrongly.

"I don't think I understood the true meanings behind them, and the implications, and the hurt that those words have caused."

"Emmerdale" producers called Shila into their office to show her the tweets, and afterwards told her they would not be renewing her contract, and the actress "couldn't believe" what was happening.

She said: "I just felt like I was dreaming. I do not condone the use of those words, they're not in my vocabulary anymore. I wouldn't dream of using them anymore.

"For them to be right there in front of me I couldn't believe it. And I couldn't believe what was happening. I knew it was completely wrong."

Shila now wants to help raise awareness to the younger generation about taking a "moral responsibility" about using "language appropriately", and insists she doesn't use such language anymore.

She added: "I've grown and I've matured and I've become educated, six/ seven years later, I'm now a professional actor.

"I wasn't at that time. I didn't have the responsibilities that I do.

"I know now that young people will look up to me and what I say can influence them and I think that's very important.

"I do own up to the fact I used inappropriate language. I don't do that anymore, I don't speak like that anymore."

Earlier this month, a representative for "Emmerdale" 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."

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