Fyza Ali, a 29-year-old Instagram influencer, recently issued a public apology after a voice memo in which she used racist slurs went viral. The slurs were directed at a social media follower of Pakistani ethnicity. Ms. Ali said that, in light of the incident, she planned to take a break from social media.
According to multiple sources, Ms. Ali herself is of Pakistani ethnicity. She and her sister Sonia (who is three years her junior) grew up in Birmingham, England, before relocating to Dubai. Together, the two sisters maintain a fashion and lifestyle account on Instagram using the handle @SoniaxFyza. The account has 1.3 million followers. The sisters have often been compared in appearance to Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, although both have dismissed the comparisons, saying they simply have a “Middle Eastern look.”
The scandal began when a Snapchat voice memo from @SoniaxFyza was screen-recorded on November 21 and quickly went viral.
The voice recorded was Fyza’s. She used generally profane language towards the recipient and threatened violence against her. Then, still enraged, Fyza ultimately used a racist epithet. She would later say she was “trying to make [the recipient] feel the same hurt I felt.”
Within a few days, Fyza posted a written statement and a video to the sisters’ shared Instagram account, saying that she had “reflected on [her] act of racism during a moment of anger,” that she was “100% owning up to [her] mistakes,” and that she hoped followers would “understand” that she was struggling with the recent death of her mother, and was also defending herself against a follower’s repeated online harassment. She noted, however, that she could have said the same things without using racist language. Fyza added, “I sincerely apologize to her as a human being, as a woman and The Pakistani community I have offended.”
However, many sources have been quick to note that Fyza’s Instagram story took a different tone. In her since-disappeared story, Fyza described herself as “unapologetic.” She elaborated, saying, “I won’t apologize for defending myself in anger because I simply had enough.”
Despite her apology, Fyza was quickly dropped by several companies she had collaborated with on influencer campaigns. They include Missguided, Pretty Little Thing, and Shein.