Saira Khan has announced she’s no longer a practising Muslim after years of feeling ‘guilty, caged and unhappy’.
In a new interview, the former Loose Women panellist, 50, revealed she was led to share her life update after receiving a ‘disgusting message from a troll’ as she declared: ‘This was the last taboo to overcome before I could live my best life.’
The Apprentice star, who is of Pakistani heritage, explained how she ‘pretended to be someone I’m not’ in order to make her family happy and admitted she was scared to publicly renounce Islam due to death threat fears.
The media personality said: ‘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 journalist confessed she doesn’t want to ‘inadvertently confuse, represent or unintentionally hurt others’ of the Muslim faith after being met with assumptions about fasting for Ramadan, not drinking and abstaining from private relation before marriage.
Saira also clarified that while some Muslims ‘are the most humble people I know’ and most of her values are based on the ‘spiritual aspect of the faith’, she’s influenced by other teachings and has only been ‘hurting’ herself by ‘living a lie’ for her loved ones.
The reality star added to ‘It has taken me till the age of 50 to find the courage to say it. I’m doing it now for my own wellbeing. I want to be honest and feel free to live my
‘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.
Pakistan also has the death penalty for criticising the faith, as well as any recognised religion.
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.
‘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.’
Saira, who shares son Zac, 12, and daughter Amara, nine, with businessman husband Steve Hyde, was nominated for the Services to Media award at the British Muslim Awards in 2013 and 2015.
The host left long-running lunchtime staple Loose Women in December 2020, shortly after Andrea McClean announced her resignation.