Saira Khan gets death threats after revealing she's no longer a practicing Muslim

FORMER Loose Women star Saira Khan has received death threats after revealing she's no longer a practicing Muslim.

The 50-year-old, who is of Pakistani heritage, said she was forced to reveal her decision after she was sent a "disgusting message from a troll".

The TV star admitted that she was worried about publicly renouncing her faith over death threat fears – but explained that she could no long pretend to "be someone I'm not" in order to make her family happy.

Saira echoed the same sentiment and insisted that "this was the last taboo to overcome before I could live my best life". 

Speaking about her decision, she told fans on a recent Instagram live: "I have had death threats… until you come from that background or ethnicity as a woman, you will never understand the barriers the obstacles – the deaths to your life we are about 100 years behind in terms of freedom of speech freedom or individualism, liberty and choice.

"You cannot believe the messages I have received. I am not going to come out and say I practise the religions because I don't."

She also wrote in her latest column for The Mirror: "Saying I'm Muslim and then having a boyfriend, wearing clothes that go against the Muslim dress code, having a drink and living a non-Muslim life only brings guilt, self-loathing, loneliness and a feeling of being caged."

The Apprentice star added that she doesn't want to "inadvertently confuse, represent or unintentionally hurt others" of the Muslim faith and explained that she is influenced by other teachings outside of Islam.

"It has taken me till the age of 50 to find the courage to say it," she shared. "I'm doing it now for my own wellbeing. I want to be honest and feel free to live my life by my own rules. I have found a huge relief in being honest.  

"I know that one of the reasons I have been so angry and unhappy in my life is because of the many contradictions I've had to live with. 

"I've not dared to share these feelings before because the very few Muslim women who have are called sinful and some have even been targeted with death threats."

Fundamentalist Muslims regard apostasy, or leaving Islam, as a sin deserving of death.

In modern times, Islamic jurists regard apostasy, leaving Islam, as a sin. While in Pakistan, you can receive the death penalty for criticising the faith, as well as any recognised religion.

One of four children from a Pakistani family, Saira has often talked about her experience growing up as a first generation immigrant in the UK.

And in 2017, she blasted Islamic Extremists for their 'prehistoric' views after she received a death threat for criticising an Australian preacher.

The Loose Women panellist at the time shared a holiday picture of herself lying face down in a bikini in response to Umm Jamaal ud-Din's comments that it was a sin for Muslim women to pluck their eyebrows.

Saira told the audience: "I was so angry that here was a woman, and of all the things she could preach that's going on in our religion, she chooses eyebrows and actually makes women feel bad about themselves.

"'It's a sin,' she said. "So I posted that in defiance, saying you are a prehistoric dinosaur for coming out with stuff like this. Honestly, I have to tell you Andra, I've said a lot of things and spoken up against extremism, the things I received as a result of that image. Imagine the worst, vile comments. I received them and amongst them was a death threat.

"What kind of world are we living in? This is 2017. My husband pulled me to one side and said you've got two children, you don't know what nutters are out there, you can't speak about this, let it go.

"I was like I can't not speak up because the only image people have of Muslim women are those extremists. I want people to know I am a Muslim woman, I want to wear a bikini, I pluck my eyebrows. Killing other people in the name of religion is a sin, not plucking eyebrows."

Saira, who has been trolled for sharing lingerie selfies to Instagram in the past, previously shared the hateful threat, which read: "Keep your f***ing mouth shut.

"You're not a Muslim nor do you represent anything to do with Islam. Your white masters have given you what you desire as a sell out reporter.

"If you value your life keep the f*** out of Islam."

Then in December 2019, Saira said she was branded a "racist" and "white sell out" in the past for speaking against radicalisation. 

The ITV star said that although it's "difficult" for her to discuss her community, she feels some are ignoring British cultural norms.    

The mother-of-two said on Loose Women: "It's very difficult for me sometimes to sit here and talk about a culture that I belong to. But I have to do it because this is my country. I was born here and I am British.

"I love living in a multi-cultural society, but I think we all have to wake up and see we are living by cultures, side my side, where they are flouting British values and we're allowing people to get away with it.

"We're allowing people to get away with it us because we're not an integrated society," she added.

"I've been speaking about radicalisation of young people in this country since the 1980s and when I talk about it, I'm a 'racist' or I get told by the community I'm a white sell-out. 

"That's what happens, so I can't physically do something myself. I am giving you an insight into parts of the community where things are not right."

The panellist has been married to husband Steve Hyde since 2004 and together they have two children – Zach and Amara Hyde.

Last month, Saira quit Loose Women so that she can "focus on what's important".

The 50-year-old star joined the panel in 2015, after shooting to fame on The Apprentice.

Writing in her column for The Mirror, Saira explained that she wanted to "assess her priorities" in the new year and admitted that the ongoing Covid pandemic was a factor in her decision.

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