July 29, 2020 / 3:25 PM / 8 days ago

Rapper Wiley says 'I'm not racist' after anti-Semitic posts

LONDON (Reuters) - British rap artist Wiley apologised on Wednesday and said he is not racist after posting a string of anti-Semitic comments on his social media accounts.

FILE PHOTO: Wiley arrives for the Brit Awards at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

The rapper’s Twitter account, which had half a million followers, published a series of tweets last week asserting that Jews systematically exploited Black artists in the music industry, continuing a pattern of exploitation dating back to the slave trade.

His account has now been permanently suspended by Twitter and the social media company has apologised for the time it took to respond.

Wiley said his disagreement was with his Jewish manager and he would hand back the UK government honour given to him for his contribution to music in 2018.

“I just want to apologise for generalising and going outside of the people who I was talking to within the workspace and workplace I work in,” he said in an interview with Sky News.

“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 anti-Semitic.”

Wiley, 41, whose real name is Richard Cowie, released a number one single in Britain in 2012 and had several other top 10 hits as a leading figure in grime music, a British genre of rap.

The rapper’s former manager John Woolf, who is Jewish, said he would no longer represent the artist.

Wiley said: “I’m not racist, you know. I’m a businessman. My thing should have stayed between me and my manger. I get that.”

His comments led to condemnation from celebrities and lawmakers, including British interior minister Priti Patel.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison

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