Wiley: Grime artist permanently suspended from Twitter over antisemitic posts

29 July 2020, 09:54 | Updated: 29 July 2020, 15:11

Wiley in 2020

Wiley's Twitter account has been permanently suspended following a 48-hour string of antisemitic posts over the weekend.

The suspension of the grime artist also comes after a two-day walkout of Twitter users, including celebrities and MPs, under the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate.

Wiley - real name Richard Kylea Cowie, and known by many in the music industry as the "Godfather of Grime" - was originally handed a seven-day ban by the social media giant for his posts.

Among those who welcomed Cowie's suspension from Twitter was actor Tracy-Ann Oberman, known for her roles in Friday Night Dinner and Doctor Who, who helped organise the digital walkout.

"This is a result for ALL minorities. Jew Haters - these sites are not your megaphones," she tweeted.

On Wednesday, Cowie was also banned from both Facebook and Instagram for a further series of antisemitic posts.

An unverified Facebook account under his real name took aim at several Jewish celebrities - including businessman Lord Alan Sugar, comedian David Baddiel, and BBC presenter and Telegraph columnist Emma Barnett.

One post on the account asked Baddiel to "come and talk to me to my face".

Another said: "Emma Barnett get me on your show."

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the largest and oldest Jewish community group in the UK, criticised Twitter, saying Cowie's suspension didn't go far enough.

"Social media companies have not been strong or fast enough about tackling racism, misogyny or homophobia," said the board's president Marie van der Zyl, who added that Instagram had also been "slow" to act.

She said: "We will be talking to Twitter today, and other social media companies and government partners over the coming days, to make sure this does not happen again.

"There must be #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate."

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Twitter said in a statement it had now permanently suspended Cowie's account in line with its rules on hateful conduct, and apologised for its response.

"Let us be clear: hateful conduct has absolutely no place on our service and we strongly condemn antisemitism," the social media company said.

"We are sorry we did not move faster and are continuing to assess the situation internally.

"We deeply respect the concerns shared by the Jewish community and online safety advocates, and we will continue to work closely with government, NGOs, civil society partners and our industry peers to tackle antisemitism on Twitter."