Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has dismissed more than 3,000 complaints about Britain’s Got Talent contestant Nabil Abdulrashid, citing “freedom of expression” as a reason not to investigate.
The stand-up comedian, from south London, tackled racism and dance troupe Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired routine while competing on the ITV show this month.
His performance sparked 985 complaints on October 3 and 2,199 during the final on October 10.
Complaints focused on his stereotyping of right-wing white people and anti-white jokes, promotion of Black Lives Matter and references to Winston Churchill.
— BGT (@BGT) October 10, 2020
A spokeswoman for Ofcom said: “We assessed a number of complaints about this comedy routine.
“In our view, taking account of freedom of expression, the comedian’s satirical take on his life experiences as a black Muslim was likely to have been within audience expectations.”
Abdulrashid was not the only performer to spark controversy during the series. Diversity attracted 24,000 complaints after performing a routine about police brutality during one of the semi-finals.
During the final Abdulrashid addressed the complaints made against him and the dance troupe.
Arriving on stage, he said: “I am glad we are here. I thought we wouldn’t make it. A lot of complaints. They complained because we said Black Lives Matter. Thousands of complaints.
“I am shocked so many of them know how to write. Hopefully if I annoy them today they can progress on to words.
“They even wrote complaints about me. That’s what upsets me. What did I say to offend anybody?
“You would think I came out here and said something really inflammatory like, ‘Winston Churchill was black’.
“But really, he was. And I can prove it. If you don’t believe me, when was the last time you met a white man named Winston?”
I’m just happy I’ve kept workers at ofcom from being made redundant. I’m a hero and should be appreciated for my contribution to the economy. @Ofcom you’re welcome.
— Nabil Abdulrashid (@Nabilu) October 12, 2020
A statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled and thrown into Bristol Harbour during a Black Lives Matter march on June 7.
Abdulrashid said: “We aren’t trying to protest and destroy buildings. Black people have real problems. That is not us.
“I can prove it. In Bristol that statue got taken down, none of the people there was black.
“You know how I know? Because they did it in front of the police and nobody got arrested, Tasered or pepper sprayed.”
Abdulrashid also suggested ITV, which praised Diversity’s routine, should have responded differently to the people who complained about it.
He joked: “I would have sent an email to everyone who complained. It would just say: ‘We understand you viewers are offended. But all viewers matter.’
“Let’s see how they like it then.”
Responding to the number of complaints on Twitter earlier this month, he quipped: “I’m just happy I’ve kept workers at Ofcom from being made redundant. I’m a hero and should be appreciated for my contribution to the economy. @Ofcom you’re welcome.”