British rapper Wiley posted a thread of antisemitic comments on his Twitter account which has resulted in getting banned from various social media platforms.
The incident also saw calls for social media platforms to tighten their policies around hate speech - including from Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Here’s what you need to know.
Who is Wiley?
Wiley is the stage name of British rapper Richard Kylea Cowie Jr.
He is regarded as a pioneer of the British underground music scene and considered a key figure in the world of grime.
He is often referred to as the “Godfather of Grime”.
In the 2018 New Years Honours, he received an MBE for his services to music.
What did Wiley say on Twitter?
Taking to Twitter, Wiley shared various conspiracy theories and insulted Jewish people, accusing them of being “snakes” and suggesting that they are “at war” with black people.
He wrote: “There are 2 sets of people who nobody has really wanted to challenge #Jewish & #KKK but being in business for 20 years you start to understand why. Red Necks Are the KKK and Jewish people are the Law… Work that out.”
He also tweeted: “If you work for a company owned by 2 Jewish men and you challenge the Jewish community in anyway of course you will get fired.”
Amongst his tweets, Wiley also wrote that Jewish people should “hold some corn” which is a slang expression meaning “to be shot”. He added: “Jewish community you deserve it.”
As a result of his tweets, Wiley’s management company, A-List Management have “cut all ties” with the rapper.
John Woolf, who is Jewish, wrote on Twitter: “Following Wiley’s antisemitic tweets today we at @A_ListMGMT have cut all ties with him. There is no place in society for antisemitism.”
However, in a video posted on Instagram, Wiley claimed it was he who cut ties with his management, not the other way around.
Why was Twitter accused of “ignoring antisemitism”?
While a number of tweets from the musician have now been removed, and the 41-year-old has been issued with a seven-day ban from the site, his tweets remained visible for 12 hours after first being posted.
He was initially banned from Twitter for only a few hours, but on Saturday (25 July) morning he tweeted to his almost 500,000 followers that he was “back in action” and continued with his antisemitic tweets.
Then, he was banned again for seven days, however it has now been revealed that the rapper has been issued a permanent ban from the social media platform.
Twitter was accused of “ignoring antisemitism”, with various MPs criticising the company for allowing the tweets to remain online for as long as they did.
Labour MP Jess Phillips said on Saturday: “Just seen all the Wiley stuff. Why on earth have @Twitter left up such blatant antisemitism and hatred? It hits all the dangerous beats, Jews get things you don’t get, they are in control, they think they're better… This is dangerous stuff. Surely it should come down.”
Fellow Labour MP Neil Coyle also wrote: “His management appear able to act quicker than @Twitter emphasising, once again, that legislation (including the Online Harms Bill) should ensure social media platforms are not used to spread hate.”
The government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, John Mann, said that the tweets “demonstrated precisely why the law needs changing to hold them to reasonable account”.
Wiley was also issued a seven day block on his Instagram account as well.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, issued a statement, saying that there is “no place for hate speech on Instagram”.
How did Priti Patel respond?
Home Secretary Priti Patel took to Twitter to demand a “full explanation” from Twitter and Instagram as to why the posts from the rapper were not dealt with faster.
She wrote: “The antisemitic posts from Wiley are abhorrent. They should not have been able to remain on Twitter and Instagram for so long and I have asked them for a full explanation.
“Social media companies must act much faster to remove such appalling hatred for their platforms.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also said that the steps taken by both Twitter and Instagram were not enough.
Is Wiley being investigated by the police?
A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said: “Our crime unit has reported this matter to the Metropolitan Police Service as we consider that Wiley has committed the offence of incitement to racial hatred, which can carry a substantial prison sentence.”
The spokesperson also said that the CAA have contacted the honours forfeiture committee at the Cabinet Office to ask “that Wiley’s MBE be revoked”.
On Saturday, London’s Metropolitan Police Service said: “We have received a number of reports relating to alleged anti-Semitic tweets posted on social media.
“The MET takes all reports of anti-Semitism extremely seriously. The relevant material is being assessed. Anyone with further information can report it online or via 101 with reference 4219917/20.”
Why are people boycotting social media?
Following the Wiley incident, politicians, celebrities and other high profile figures are participating in a 48 hour boycott of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which happened from 9am on 27 July.
Both sites were heavily criticised for their slow response to the anti-semitic posts by Wiley.
The hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate has trended on Twitter, with users announcing their support for the boycott.
Many tweeting about their involvement in the boycott also included a picture that has been widely circulated which features an emoji with a zipped mouth and reads: “Silence talks. Starting Monday 27th at 9am leave Twitter for 48 hours to protest their inaction on anti-Jewish racism #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate”
The Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) tweeted: “We are joining a 48 hour @Twitter @Instagram walk out from 9am today. Holocaust denial, racism and hate have no place in society and no place on social media platforms.
“@Twitter and @Instagram need to do better. #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate.”
Actor Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter franchise, The OA) tweeted his support, writing: “I’m in. Or Out, rather. I’m so used to antisemitic hatred, caricature and conspiracy theories from governments, looneytunes, the left, right and reasonable middle that I long ago lost hope for change online or in life. Maybe there’s a window. #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate.”
MP Jess Phillips was also among those who tweeted support for the movement.
She said: "From 9am tomorrow I am joining the boycott of @Twitter for 48 hours to protest their inaction on antisemitism. This platform has been a safe haven for hate speech for too long. @jack must act #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate"
Conservative MP Chris Clarkson also tweeted: I’ll be joining the 48 hour walkout. @Twitter has failed to act in the face of blatant hate speech and racism. Users agree to abide by certain terms & conditions as community members but those rules aren’t being applied consistently or robustly enough. #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate.”
Speaking with Sky News, the rapper apologised for the tweets, and also that he would hand back his MBE.
Wiley said: “I just want to apologise for generalising and going out of the people who I was talking to within the workspace and workplace I work in.
"My comments should not have been directed to all Jews or Jewish people. I want to apologise for generalising and I want to apologise for comments that were looked at as antisemitic.”
The rapper explained that he is “not racist” and that his comments should have stayed between him and his manager.
Wiley tried to clarify his comments about “hold corn”, saying: “I’m an MC. Stop trying to take my stuff and make me into Saddam Hussein. I’m an MC. We speak like that, ‘hold some corn’. It doesn’t mean shooting. It means hold some corn lyrically. Stop trying to be clever.”
Has Wiley been banned from YouTube?
The rapper has been banned from various social media platforms following his antisemitic tweets, with YouTube being the latest platform to remove him.
A YouTube spokesperson said: “Following repeated violations, YouTube has terminated Wiley’s channels from our platform.”
According to YouTube, Wiley had two videos struck from his channels due to hate speech content, and he had been banned from uploading for seven days.
However, the rapper attempted to get around the ban by uploading content to a new channel.
A spokesperson from CAA said: “Following contact between Campaign Against Antisemitism and Google, Wiley has now been banned from YouTube.
"This should have happened faster but we are pleased that this now means that Wiley can no longer incite antisemitism on any of the major social media platforms and has lost the ability to broadcast his hatred to the hundreds of thousands of people who followed him.”
Wiley has also reportedly been banned from another video sharing social media platform – TikTok.
TikTok have no confirmed officially if the rapper has been banned, but the news circulated when fans noticed that his account was gone.
The Metropolitan Police service confirmed that because Wiley was not in the UK when he posted the tweets considered antisemitic, which means that the Metropolitan Police service are not able to pursue further action due to jurisdiction issues.
Anticipating this development, the CAA have already appointed lawyers within the appropriate jurisdiction to pursue justice abroad, according to a statement from the CAA.
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “At this stage we are able to confirm that the Metropolitan Police Service has closed its investigation due to jurisdictional issues and that we have instructed lawyers abroad to pursue this matter. When antisemites incite hatred against Jews, we will pursue them, including across borders if necessary. We will provide further details at a later date.”
The CAA is unable to provide further details at this time.
What did Nabil Abdulrashid say?
Nabil Abdulrashid is a comedian who has made it to the final of Britain’s Got Talent, following his stand up routine about racism.
Abdulrashid mentioned Wiley in his comedy routine, saying: “One of my friends proved to be the worst type of racist, these guys are so empowered by the internet, the internet is the only place you can say whatever you like and not suffer any consequences, unless your name is Wiley.
“He should have known better. Wiley, man, I’m so disappointed.”