LONDON – One Direction star Niall Horan, singer Lily Allen and pop band 1975 were among hundreds of familiar names on the UK music scene to unite against “all forms of racism” after a rapper’s anti-Semitic tirade.
Rita Ora, Lewis Capaldi and Little Mix were joined by major British labels such as Universal Music, Warner Music and Sony Music and a number of other leading figures in the sector to support an open letter entitled “#NoSilenceInMusic” on Saturday.
“All forms of racism have the same roots: ignorance, lack of education and scapegoat,”
“Whether it’s systemic racism and racial inequality highlighted by the continued police brutality in America or anti-Jewish racism promulgated through online attacks, the result is the same: suspicion, hatred and division,” he added.
The letter was published after the famous British grime rapper Wiley was banned from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram after publishing a series of anti-Semitic and racist diatribes last week.
Wiley, whose real name Richard Cowie, compared Jews to the Ku Klux Klan and claimed that Jews systematically exploited black artists in the music industry.
The posts prompted celebrities, politicians and other high-profile Britons to join a 48-hour “walkout” from Twitter to protest what they said was an inadequate response to a rapper’s anti-Semitic tweets.
They also rekindled the country’s debate on racism, which was brought into focus following a series of protests after the death of George Floyd under the knees of a Minnesota police officer. One in June saw the statue of a slave trader overturned.
The posts also asked questions about the ability of social media platforms to combat hate speech.
After initially removing some of his posts, Wiley, 41, was definitively excluded from Twitter five days after uploading his comments last Wednesday, one day after being removed from Facebook and Instagram.
Twitter later apologized for the time it took to respond, but only after being criticized by a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said: “Social media companies need to go much further and faster in removing hate content like this. “
The internal secretary of the United Kingdom, Priti Patel, was also questioned because the rapper’s posts he had been awake so long.
Wiley, nicknamed “the godfather of the filth”, subsequently insisted that he was not “racist” in an interview with British broadcaster Sky News.
He said his disagreement was with his Jewish manager and that he would return the British government honor given to him for his contribution to music in 2018.
“My comments should not have been directed at all Jews or Jews. I want to apologize for the generalization and I want to apologize for the comments that have been considered anti-Semitic, “he said.
However, he later appeared to backtrack, saying to the interviewer: “It’s systemic racism on their side” and “the system and … a community of Jewish lawyers” made him angry.
Wiley has also been dropped by his management company and faces a police investigation into tweets.
His former manager John Woolf has confirmed in a declaration that his company had “cut all ties” with the artist, adding: “There is no place in society for anti-Semitism”.