Claudia Winkleman on the rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia: ‘It’s all horrendous’

Presenter said she chooses not to speak about the topic on social media

Ellie Harrison
Sunday 31 December 2023 09:51
Thousands join latest London protest calling for ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

Claudia Winkleman has discussed antisemitism and Islamophobia in the UK amid the Israel-Gaza war.

The 51-year-old presenter, who is Jewish, was speaking in an interview to promote the new series of BBC One competition show The Traitors.

When asked by The Sunday Times Magazine if she thinks about antisemitism more than usual at the moment, she replied: “Definitely. But I also think about Islamophobia more than I used to as well. The truth is that it’s all horrendous. I can’t dress it up. Antisemitism and Islamophobia both feel as if they’re on the rise around where I live.”

Winkleman, who lives in London, said she is not tempted to speak out about the topic on social media. “The problem [with social media] is there is zero nuance,” she said. “Twitter is like a bar fight. So I choose not to go there. What happened to conversation?”

Winkleman herself has said she has never experienced antisemitism, but has recalled how her grandparents kept a suitcase by their door in London in case they had to flee.

There has been a 1,350 per cent increase in hate crimes against Jewish people as the Middle East crisis erupted, the Metropolitan police said in October.

Meanwhile, in November, charity Tell MAMA reported that there has been a 600 per cent increase in Islamophobic hate crimes since the Hamas attack on 7 October.

Winkleman was speaking ahead of the launch of The Traitors series two on 3 January.

The show, which first launched at the tail-end of 2022, became a word-of-mouth-hit: it sees 22 contestants attempting to deceive each other to get the chance of winning up to £120,000. Winkleman won a Bafta for her presenting work on the programme.

Winkleman presenting ‘The Traitors’

In another recent interview, Winkleman admitted that she initially declined to return to present the reality show in order to prioritise her family life.

The comments came weeks after Winkleman announced that she was standing down from her BBC Radio 2 Saturday show to spend more time with her kids. Winkleman shares three children with film producer husband Kris Thykier.

The Traitors returns on Wednesday 3 January at 9pm on BBC One, with episode two and three immediately available on iPlayer and airing on the BBC the following nights.

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