Entertainment & Arts

Police to investigate Coronation Street actor Marc Anwar's tweets

Marc Anwar Image copyright PA
Image caption Marc Anwar said he was 'disgusted' with himself

Police have said they are investigating comments made by the Coronation Street actor Marc Anwar about Indians as a potential hate crime.

The Pakistan-born actor has apologised for posting tweets about Indians which ITV said were "racially offensive".

He was sacked after screenshots were published of the tweets, appearing to hit out at Indians over Kashmir.

He said: "I am absolutely disgusted with myself, and unreservedly apologise to anybody that has been affected."

Greater Manchester Police confirmed on Monday they had received reports of a hate crime and that an investigation was under way.

The 60-year-old actor joined the soap as Sharif Nazir in February 2014. ITV said Anwar would be leaving the show "with immediate effect".

His original tweets included offensive language used to refer to Indian people.

The screenshots, first published by the Sunday Mirror, also called for Pakistani actors to stop working in the country.

The comments came after the Indian army said it killed a militant in a gunfight in the disputed region of Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

'Deeply shocked'

Speaking to the BBC Asian Network on Monday, Anwar said his Twitter account was private at the time the tweets were posted and he had not expected them to be widely read.

"Twitter is not my favourite thing, neither is Facebook. They don't concern me, I have no desire to be famous or to seek publicity," he said.

"My Twitter account was private because I didn't want to engage with anybody."

Speaking about why he wrote his initial tweets, Anwar said: "What's going on in Kashmir is very painful to me, it hurts me deeply."

The actor said his comments had "upset a lot of people, my family, my friends, my present and past colleagues".

"I cannot apologise enough for those remarks. I can't retract those, in future I can only try and do something that hopefully proves that I am not a bigot, a coward, a liar, a cheat and definitely not a racist."

Mr Anwar's character is a member of the first Muslim family to be seen on Coronation Street.

'Let people down'

In a statement, ITV 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."

ITV confirmed that pre-filmed episodes with the actor - who has also appeared in Hollywood films such as Captain Phillips and The 51st State - will still air, but his presence in the show will be minimised until his character can be written out.

On Saturday evening, the actor posted an apology on his Twitter account - which is now public.

Anwar also said he was sorry "especially to people from India" in a YouTube video posted on Sunday.

"The language was unacceptable and I feel I've let a lot of people down," he said.

On Monday, Ofcom announced it would launch an investigation into an episode of Coronation Street after the soap was accused of racism for a comment a character made about her hair.

The episode, broadcast in August, saw Eva Price, played by Catherine Tyldesley, visit Audrey's hair salon, where she remarked: "I have more roots than Kunta Kinte."

Kunta Kinte was a character from the novel Roots: The Saga Of An American Family, which tells the story of a young man taken from Gambia and sold as a slave.

The complaints led the show to "apologise if this dialogue has caused offence".

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