BBC radio host Emma Barnett issues powerful condemnation of Wiley antisemitism: ‘Those words burn’

Grime artist has been criticised by the prime minister for his ‘abhorrent’ attacks on the Jewish community

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 27 July 2020 14:58
BBC Radio DJ shares powerful reaction to Wiley antisemitism

BBC Radio DJ Emma Barnett has issued a powerful condemnation of grime artist Wiley’s string of antisemitic posts to social media.

Wiley, real name Richard Cowie, made a number of attacks on the Jewish community over the weekend, including a post that compared Jewish people to the Ku Klux Klan.

His comments are currently the subject of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police. Since his comments, Wiley has been dropped by his management company and handed a temporary ban from Twitter.

Barnett, who presents a morning show on BBC5 Live, opened her show on Monday 27 July by calling Wiley’s comments “foul” and reading her listeners a selection of those remarks.

“Those words burn,” she said. “They’re deeply dispiriting and they play on a very well-hidden fear a lot of Jewish people have, that some day antisemitism will rise up once more.”

“Antisemitism is so fresh and so raw for us,” she added.

Barnett then recounted her own Jewish heritage, including her grandmother who escaped the Nazis in Austria, and found sanctuary as a housemaid in England. Her husband’s grandmother was tortured in Auschwitz – “a two hour flight from here”.

Barnett said to this day, her husband is unable to visit, saying: ”He can’t bear it.”

“Do you know how frightening that is?” Barnett said, of seeing antisemitic abuse on social media. “The one bit of abuse that always stops me in my tracks and makes me feel angry, and sad, and burned, is when I get antisemitic abuse.”

Addressing the “walkout” that is taking place on Twitter in protest against the social media network’s lack of immediate action over antisemitism, Barnett said ”something else must not be missed”.

“Why is a 41-year-old bloke from ‘enlightened Britain’ attacking Jews, on a random Friday?” she asked. “And he’s not alone.”

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“Just in case you need something clarifying,” she said. “Jews don’t run the law. Jews don’t run the banks. Jews don’t run, as you put it, the world. I hate to disappoint you and anyone else who got your antisemitic memo, but it ain’t true.”

Prime minister Boris Johnson today (27 July) issued a condemnation of Wiley’s “abhorrent” comments and said Twitter’s response was “not good enough”.

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