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British columnist forced to apologise over 'racist' abuse of Muslim writer

Burchill claimed Sarkar 'worshipped a paedophile' [Twitter]

Date of publication: 16 March, 2021

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Controversial columnist Julie Burchill was agreed to an out-of-court settlement after she accused Ash Sarkar of supporting terrorism and paedophilia.
Controversial British columnist Julie Burchill was forced to apologise this week over a campaign of "racist and misogynist" abuse leveled against fellow writer Ash Sarkar.

Burchill also agreed to pay out "substantial" damages as part of the out-of-court settlement. The figure agreed upon has not been disclosed.

Sarkar, a British-Bangladeshi columnist and left-wing political activist, took legal action against Burchill following a two-week campaign of insults last year.

The Daily Telegraph columnist accused Sarkar of supporting Islamist extremism.

Burchill also claimed Sarkar "worshipped a paedophile", a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhamad.

The series of tweets began after Sarkar, an editor for left-wing site Novara Media, critiqued an article by right-wing columnist Rod Liddle, a friend of Burchill.

Read more: Controversial British journalist Julie Burchill has book contract terminated over Islamophobic tweets

The tweets also included lurid poems and speculation about Sarkar's sex life and whether she was a victim of female genital mutilation.

"On 13 December 2020 I made defamatory statements about [Sarkar], which I sincerely regret and retract and have undertaken not to repeat. I have agreed to pay substantial damages to Ash Sarkar and her legal costs. Here is my full and wholehearted apology," Burchill said in a tweet on Tuesday accompanied by a longer statement.

"I should not have sent these tweets, some of which included racist and misogynist comments regarding Ms Sarkar's appearance and her sex life," the statement read.

"I unreservedly and unconditionally apologise for the hurtful and unacceptable statements I made... particularly those concerning her religion and Prophet Mohammed," it continued.

Burchill said that she does "not believe, have never believed and never intended to make any allegation" that Sarkar supports terrorism or condones paedophilia. 

"I also now understand that it is blasphemy for a Muslim to worship Prophet Mohammed and I had no basis for stating that Ms Sarkar does so," she wrote.

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