Wiley stripped of MBE after anti-Semitic comments


Following anti-Semitic comments he made online, Wiley has been stripped of his MBE for “bringing [the] honours system into disrepute”.

The British Grime artist had received the honour back in December 2017 for his services to music. However, according to a list published on the Cabinet Office website, it appears that he has forfeited the MBE (via The Mirror).

The honour being revoked comes in light of the numerous anti-Semitic statements made by the musician, which stem back nearly four years, and calls for action from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA).

Back in 2020, the London MC faced backlash after making anti-Semitic comments on Twitter, going on a rant about the music industry, Israel and Jewish people. “A record deal is not to benefit you it’s to make the person who gave you the advance rich as hell while you take 17 or 18 per cent of net profit after costs,” he wrote.

“If you work for a company owned by 2 Jewish men and you challenge the Jewish community in anyway of course you will get fired… In fact there are 2 sets of people who nobody has really wanted to challenge #Jewish & #KKK but being in business for 20 years you start to understand why.”

Wiley performs on the main stage on Day 1 of Wireless Festival 2018 at Finsbury Park on July 6, 2018 in London
Wiley performs on the main stage on Day 1 of Wireless Festival 2018 at Finsbury Park on July 6, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Tabatha Fireman/Getty Images)

The comments led to his eventual suspension from social media sites, and the rapper being dropped by his management company.

At the time he also told Sky News that he was willing to have the MBE – which he described as an honour in 2017 – taken away in light of the controversial comments. “I’m not racist, you know. I’m a businessman,” he told the outlet when asked about the remarks.

“If I read what anti-Semitism is and it says the Jewish community is powerful in business, that’s racist? I think that’s silly,” he added. “I don’t care what nobody says. I wanna apologise for generalising, number one, and I want to apologise for comments that were looked at as anti-Semitic.”

He also said that he was fine with it being removed as it was “never” in his possession, and instead framed inside the house of his former Manager John Woolf.

The controversy around the musician – real name Richard Kylea Cowie Jr – continued into December 2021, when he was suspended from Twitter following an attack on the CAA.

At the time, he shared a now-deleted tweet (via Daily Mail), posting an image of himself in Hasidic dress and a video titled “The Jewish Faces that Control Hiphop and Mainstream Black Music.”

 Wiley performs on stage during day 2 of South West Four Festival 2019 at Clapham Common on August 25, 2019 in London, England.
Wiley performs on stage during day 2 of South West Four Festival 2019 at Clapham Common on August 25, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

In another since-deleted tweet, he said: “The more they block me the harder I go and when I get through the door I will stand there and look in their faces with the same look they don’t wanna see….They are just angry they can’t control me…”

Following Wiley forfeiting his MBE, Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement for Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, shared a statement reading: “Anti-Semites like Wiley must understand that we will work tirelessly to hold them to account. For four years, we have worked to ensure that Wiley faces ruinous consequences for his unhinged antisemitic tirade, for which he has shown no remorse. Today’s decision is a vindication of that effort.”

He continued: “We commend the Honours Forfeiture Committee for using its powers to make clear that anti-Jewish racists cannot be role models in our society and will be stripped of their honours. Receiving an honour is not a one-time thing: it carries an ongoing responsibility to set an example to others.

“Due to technical reasons, including legal action that we continue to pursue against Wiley, the forfeiture was delayed. We are grateful to the Honours Forfeiture Committee for its work on this matter.”

In other Wiley news, in 2022 it was revealed that the artist was wanted by police six months after failing to turn up for a court hearing where he was due to face charges of burglary and assault.

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