British police said on Monday they were opening an investigation into “racist” anti-India tweets by Pakistan-born actor Marc Anwar, who was fired from the country’s most popular TV soap following uproar over his remarks.
“On Sunday, 25 September 2016 police received a report of a hate crime. Police have launched an investigation and enquiries are ongoing. Hate incidents will not be tolerated in Greater Manchester and should be reported to police,” Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.
Anwar, 45, unreservedly apologised for the tweets that referred to protests and unrest in Jammu and Kashmir. He called Indians “b*****ds” and used other insulting terms.
The actor was dropped from Coronation Street, the world’s longest-running soap opera, and producers said the storyline would be redrafted to drop his character in future episodes.
In a video uploaded to YouTube, Anwar said the language he used about Indians in his tweets was “unacceptable” and that he felt he had “let everyone down”.
Anwar said: “On Friday evening I saw, on the news, children being pulled out of rubble, people being pelted with pellets, women mourning their dead in Kashmir. This upset me very deeply and in a moment of madness I ranted out. I vented my anger.”
He added, “Again, the language that I used, I sincerely apologise for. But my feelings were very sincere for the people of Kashmir. And I hope that everyone that I have offended can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
Anwar joined Coronation Street in 2014 as a member of the show’s first Muslim family. Set in a fictional suburb of Manchester in northwest England, it is one of Britain’s most-watched programmes with around eight million viewers. He was sacked after the Sunday Mirror published screenshots from his Twitter account.
ITV, the channel that makes the series, described Anwar’s comments as shocking. An ITV spokesman said: “We are deeply shocked by the entirely unacceptable, racially offensive comments made on Twitter by Marc Anwar. We have talked to Marc and, as a consequence of his comments, he will not be returning to Coronation Street with immediate effect.”
Anwar’s character, gym boss Sharif Nazir, will still appear in scenes that have already been filmed for upcoming episodes. He also appeared in Hollywood films, including Captain Phillips and 51st State.