Rachel Riley issues apology after linking Sydney attack to ‘global intifada’

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Rachel Riley issues apology after linking Sydney attack to ‘global intifada’

David Baddiel condemns what he claims was a 'crazed rush' online to blame the Australian attack on someone who was "Muslim by some and Jewish by others"

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Rachel Riley speaking on Channel 4
Rachel Riley speaking on Channel 4

Countdown’s Rachel Riley has issued an apology for a controversial social media post about the Sydney mall stabbings after she blamed the horrific attack on wider calls for a “globalised Intifada”.

Police in Australia confirmed the tragic killing spree, which resulted in six fatalities on Saturday (April 13), was carried out by Joel Cauchi, 40, from Queensland, who police said was previously known to them, and who suffered from mental health issues.

But in an instant response to the incident, campaigner against antisemitism Riley wrote on X:”For six months now people have been out our streets proudly calling for ‘Intifada Revolution’.

“If you want to know what ‘Globalise the Intifada’ looks like see the Sydney mall.”

The post appeared to be a reference to chants made at pro-Palestine protests in this country.

After it emerged that that massacre had not been committed by someone claiming to act out of anger over the Palestinian issue, Riley faced widespread criticism online, with some calling for Channel 4 to dismiss her.

Comedian David Baddiel was among those to express concern over those who swiftly attempted to blame the attack on those who were “Muslim” .

He posted on X:”The crazed rush to insist that the Bondi killer was Muslim by some and Jewish by others – when in fact he was neither – is another example of how much this platform is just somewhere people come to have their confirmation biases further confirmed.”

Some on social media had falsely suggested the attacker was himself Jewish, naming him as Benjamin Cohen.

Riley had not been the only high profile online figure to make a snap judgement on the identity of the Sydney attacker.

The presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer also apologised for suggesting the atrocity was an ” Islamist terror attack.” Other high-profile figures deleted posts that also suggested the incident was “Islamist” related.

Riley initially sought to “clarify” the post, writing:” “Just to clarify, my intention with this tweet was not to say this attack was caused by any ideation or to link it to Islamic extremism.

“At the time we did not know who the attacker was, and as such I made no reference.

“My aim was to highlight the weekly calls for “intifada” being tolerated in London and around the world, which in actuality means violence on our streets.

“For six months now, I have avoided taking the Tube, or going with my kids to anywhere near the marches each Saturday, and each week we see the extremist chants on proud display with little outcry”.

But as criticism continued, with calls for Riley to apologise for her initial post, she eventually updated her statement on Sunday evening.

She posted:”I’ve thought about this all day and deleted the original tweet, so just one more post on the matter.

“I’m sorry to those I offended. My post was ambiguous and although it was genuinely designed to call out calls for violence, it wasn’t the right place or time which made it easier to misinterpret, and I apologise.”

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