The television presenter Saira Khan received a number of death threats when making a public announcement: renouncement of practicing Islam.
She was a panellist for the show Loose Women. She stated that the issue for women with a Muslim-sounding name and an Asian heritage are the assumptions about them.
In addition to the death threats, she received a number of abusive troll comments online too. Her fame arose as a contestant on The Apprentice. She has been on Dancing on Ice and Celebrity Big Brother.
“I feel that by saying this as a public figure, I will no longer inadvertently confuse or unintentionally hurt others of the Muslim faith,” Khan 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.”
Her reasons for renouncing Islam included wearing clothes against an accepted dress code, drinking alcohol, and having a boyfriend in a tryst sort of situation. She is of Pakistani heritage. She adopted a child and does not follow Islamic rules on inheritance for her daughter.
On individual Muslims, Khan clarified, “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 bases current spiritual values on some of the Islamic upbringing and some other spiritual traditions as well. She was baffled as to how her personal choices in a faith and a lifestyle can so drastically impact the level of hatred in other people.
Khan was, in fact, “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”
With files from BBC News.