Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain feared she was seen as the “token Muslim” when she appeared on the BBC TV show, she has revealed.
The champion of the 2015 series told the Radio Times religion was “incidental” to her and she “struggled” with it being so tied to her identity.
The negative comments she received “shocked” her, she told the magazine.
But she said those people were in the “minority” and most of the UK had reacted to her with “open arms”.
‘She’s the Muslim’
Hussain, 32, told Radio Times magazine: “I certainly didn’t enter a baking show in the hope of representing anyone.
“Being a Muslim for me was incidental, but from the day the show was launched, I was ‘the 30-year-old Muslim’ and that became my identity.”
She told Radio Times it was difficult to adjust to that “identity” being forced upon her.
“I struggled at the beginning, because I thought: ‘Am I the token Muslim?’
“I’d never, in all my years, been labelled like that.
“I heard it constantly, ‘Oh, she’s the Muslim, she’s the Muslim’…
“And I was so shocked by the amount of negative comments I got.”
Hussain, a second-generation British Bangladeshi, said she hears and sees “negativity” but that it does not affect her as those sharing such comments are in the minority.
“We are so much more accepting than that: I never realised Britain had such open arms,” she said.
Since winning Bake Off, Hussain has appeared in her own series, The Chronicles Of Nadiya.
She is set to launch her new BBC TV show, Nadiya’s British Food Adventure, on 17 July and will release a book of the same name alongside it.
Hussain will also host the BBC Two series The Big Family Cooking Showdown with Zoe Ball and judges Rosemary Shrager and Giorgio Locatelli this autumn.