Great British Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain has revealed that she was targeted by an anti-Islamic hate mob on social media. The mother of three and her family needed a police guard at their home after she received racist threats on Twitter following her win.
The 31-year-old, who won the nation's hearts as much with her inventive bakes as her witty one-liners, was speaking on ITV's Loose Women when she revealed that she was bombarded with abuse and insults for being a hijab-wearing Muslim.
Nadiya, who is of Bangladeshi origin and a practising Muslim, frequently demonstrated her pride in both her British roots and her Muslim faith, drawing on both influences in creating her spectacular bakes. And while she remained undeterred by the online abuse, the police took the threats seriously.
"There was quite a lot of negativity on Twitter," she said. "I tried really hard not to look at it. My husband is one of those who has to read everything, so he sat there and read everything.
"You can do two things, and the old me would have very much regretted everything, and there were times when I thought, 'What have I done? Am I putting my kids in danger?' and he was always the one to just say, 'It's OK. They're such a minority and it doesn't matter'.
"And if anything, I proved to myself that I can have the confidence not to care what people think. For me, that's what came out of it all."
Loose Women guest presenter Vicky Pattison asked: "Is it true you had to be almost relocated by police or had to have a police presence at your house?" Nadiya replied: "We had to have people come in and check that we're OK. For me, some of the tweets I looked at I thought, well that's nothing, it'll be fine, but everyone wanted to make sure that we were safe."
She added that fortunately her children were not worried by the police presence in their family homes. "It was scary but my kids loved it," she added. "They were like, 'Ooh! Policemen!" Nadiya and her husband Abdal, 34, and their children have since moved to a new home in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
Following her success in the series, Nadiya was dubbed a "poster girl" for "being British and being a Muslim" and her victory in the Great British Bake Off was hailed as a triumph for multi-cultural Britain.
As she made it to the final, the baker admitted she had initially had her doubts as to how the public would react to her on the show. "Originally, I was a bit nervous that perhaps people would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake," she said. "But I hope that week by week people have realised that I can bake – and just because I'm not a stereotypical British person, it doesn't mean that I am not into bunting, cake and tea."