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SAS: Who Dares Wins embroiled in religious and sexism row

SAS: Who Dares Wins has become embroiled in a religious and sexism row after a female Muslim contestant claimed that she was prevented from preforming at her best because of ‘insensitivity’ towards her faith and gender.

Shireen Khan, 28, said that she feared she would catch hypothermia after refusing to strip off in front of the cameras and fellow contestants because of her Islamic beliefs. 

The contestant also complained that she was not served any halal food and became constipated after being unable to use a bucket as a toilet while men were present.

Row: SAS: Who Dares Wins has become embroiled in a religious and sexism row after Ms Khan claimed that she was prevented from preforming at her best because of ‘insensitivity’ towards her faith and gender 

Ms Khan also claimed that the Channel 4 show’s former Special Forces instructors were ‘patronising’ and ‘condescending’ after they referred to her as ‘cupcake’ and a ‘gym bunny’ during gruelling challenges.

The contestant, from north London, features on the first episode of the show this Sunday, which has been filmed in rural Scotland on what is being billed as the toughest course yet since the programme started.

This is the second major controversy to hit the show in recent months after host Ant Middleton was sacked in March over his ‘personal conduct’. 

It had previously been revealed that the TV personality had referred to Black Lives Matter protesters as ‘absolute scum’ and urged people to ‘carry on as normal’ and not change their habits amid the global Covid pandemic.

Claims: Shireen Khan, 28, said that she feared she would catch hypothermia after refusing to strip off in front of the cameras and fellow contestants because of her Islamic beliefs

Claims: Shireen Khan, 28, said that she feared she would catch hypothermia after refusing to strip off in front of the cameras and fellow contestants because of her Islamic beliefs 

He features in the up-coming series as he was axed after filming had been completed.

Ms Khan told MailOnline: ‘Being on the show was an incredible experience and something that will live with me forever. But I do believe that cultural insensitivity towards my Muslim faith and being a woman, held me back.

‘After a mud challenge, the other contestants were comfortable stripping off in front of each other and the cameras but as a Muslim woman, I couldn’t do it. 

‘I had to keep on wet clothes, which left me cold and shivering and I was worried that I would catch hypothermia. I had to wait until I could change my clothes privately.

Present: The contestant also complained that she was not served any halal food and became constipated after being unable to use a bucket as a toilet while men were present

Present: The contestant also complained that she was not served any halal food and became constipated after being unable to use a bucket as a toilet while men were present

‘The toilet was one of two outdoor buckets and I wasn’t able to go properly during my time on the set because men were using an adjoining one. Because of my culture I wasn’t comfortable doing that.’

To add to her woes on the hard-hitting programme, Ms Khan said she was forced to eat vegetarian food because no halal options were available.

She added: ‘I believe that there needs to be greater diversity on the show and the only way you can do that is by being more aware of cultural sensitivities. 

‘These are all barriers that are preventing people from diverse backgrounds from participating in Who Dares Wins and even joining the British armed forces.

Axed: This is the second major controversy to hit the show in recent months after host Ant Middleton was sacked in March over his 'personal conduct'

Axed: This is the second major controversy to hit the show in recent months after host Ant Middleton was sacked in March over his ‘personal conduct’  

‘The programme has already had problems around Ant Middleton, and I feel that Channel 4 need to address the issues that I’m raising.’

Businesswoman Ms Khan, who owns three health clinics in London claimed that in addition to her faith, her gender also played a part in how she performed. 

She was eliminated on the first day after failing a challenge that involved running up a mountain carrying a 50kg weight, which left her severely bruised.

Ms Khan, who weighs 51kg said: ‘What I was carrying should have been proportionate to my body weight. There were male contestants who weighed a lot more than that and it was a lot easier for them.

'Patronising': Ms Khan also claimed that the Channel 4 show's former Special Forces instructors were 'patronising' and 'condescending' after they referred to her as 'cupcake' and a 'gym bunny' during gruelling challenges

‘Patronising’: Ms Khan also claimed that the Channel 4 show’s former Special Forces instructors were ‘patronising’ and ‘condescending’ after they referred to her as ‘cupcake’ and a ‘gym bunny’ during gruelling challenges 

‘As a woman who is not very heavy, that exercise was unfair and impossible to complete. The programme makers need to take these kinds of things into consideration.’

She also criticised the show’s instructors Jason Fox, Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham and Ant Middleton.

Ms Khan added: ‘Being called “cupcake” and “gym bunny” is very patronising and condescending. 

‘I wanted to say to them that I’m a lot tougher than you think. Even to get to this stage of the show is very difficult because you need a lot of mental and physical strength.’

Ouch: She was eliminated on the first day after failing a challenge that involved running up a mountain carrying a 50kg weight, which left her severely bruised

Ouch: She was eliminated on the first day after failing a challenge that involved running up a mountain carrying a 50kg weight, which left her severely bruised

Gruelling challenges: Ms Khan, who weighs 51kg said: 'What I was carrying should have been proportionate to my body weight' (one of her bruises from the challenges)

Gruelling challenges: Ms Khan, who weighs 51kg said: ‘What I was carrying should have been proportionate to my body weight’ (one of her bruises from the challenges) 

She revealed that in order to qualify for the first episode she had to undergo eight arduous physical tests and gave up her work so that she could train three times per day to prepare for them.

Despite her experience, Ms Khan said that she had no regrets about appearing on the Channel 4 show.

She added: ‘Experiencing what the SAS go through has left me with nothing but admiration for them and the British armed forces as a whole for the work they do in protecting our country.

‘It was a real honour to be on the show but it’s a pity that there are not more Muslims and other communities on it.’

Performance: Businesswoman Ms Khan, who owns three health clinics in London claimed that in addition to her faith, her gender also played a part in how she performed

Performance: Businesswoman Ms Khan, who owns three health clinics in London claimed that in addition to her faith, her gender also played a part in how she performed

A spokesperson for Channel 4 said: ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins is now in its sixth series. All the recruits are fully aware that by being part of the programme, they will be immersed in an authentic SAS Selection experience. 

‘They are fully briefed about what to expect and encouraged to watch previous episodes of the series, where they will see that all recruits are treated the same, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity.

‘Shireen’s dietary requirements were discussed with her prior to taking part in the series and she requested a vegetarian option, which was honoured. However, as she was only on the course for a very short time, she did not have the opportunity to eat her chosen meal.’

In March, it was revealed that Ant Middleton had been axed from the UK series, he will still work on the Australian version of the show.

A spokesperson for Channel 4 told MailOnline at the time: ‘Ant Middleton will not be taking part in future series of SAS: Who Dares Wins. 

‘Following a number of discussions Channel 4 and Minnow Films have had with him in relation to his personal conduct it has become clear that our views and values are not aligned and we will not be working with him again.’

Talking about his exit, Middleton claimed that he was dropped from SAS: Who Dares Wins due to ‘butting heads’ with the team after he said it had become ‘more of a reality show’.  

Role: In March, it was revealed that Ant Middleton had been axed from the UK series, he will still work on the Australian version of the show

Role: In March, it was revealed that Ant Middleton had been axed from the UK series, he will still work on the Australian version of the show  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk