Trigger warning: this article mentions sexual assault
If you're obsessed with all things Love Island (and honestly, who isn't?) then you've probably heard of Murad Merali. The YouTuber and podcast host is basically a professional superfan and regularly interviews Islanders past and present on his channels.
Remember when Jazmine Nichol revealed her secret "connection" with Andrew Le Page and Coco Lodge said that one of the boys had branded her a "four out of ten"? Well, these huge news stories both broke on Murad's podcast. We mean it when we say he gets the Islanders to spill the tea - and it's always scalding hot.
However, Murad has hit the headlines himself this week after leaked videos appearing to show him engaging in foot fetish content and raceplay - an extreme form of sexual roleplay in which two consenting people act out racially-charged situations, such as interracial slave-master relationships, or use racial slurs.
After trending on Twitter, Murad released a YouTube video in which he addressed the leaked content and explained what led him to making fetish content online but he denied writing the derogatory and racist captions that often accompanied them.
Here's everything you need to know about Murad and the accusations currently surrounding him...
Who is Murad Merali?
Murad Merali is a YouTuber and podcast host who makes content focused on Love Island and other reality shows. He's gained massive popularity in recent years for his intimate interviews with stars of the ITV2 dating show, where they often reveal unheard secrets about their time in the villa. He had 300k subscribers on YouTube before the recent scandal surrounded him.
Murad also has a degree in clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience and works as a property developer in addition to his YouTube and podcast work.
How old is Murad Merali?
Murad is 26 years old at the time of writing.
What has Murad Merali been accused of?
According to a Twitter user, Murad used the alias "arabmasterboy" to post extreme foot fetish content. A man who is claimed to Murad can be seen hitting other men with his feet and calling them derogatory names in a series of videos which recently surfaced on social media. The videos also often featured raceplay and were posted on various websites with captions which included degrading language and racial slurs such as the N-word.
One social media user tweeted, "Why am I seeing Murad Merali abusing people with his feet, racially degrading them and forcing them to drink his p-ss???"
Another added, "This world is scary. You never really know what people are capable of behind closed doors and what they truly are like. Truly shocked at how Murad Merali can openly lives a life where he defends POC and behind closed doors degrades them. I’m scared of people."
What has Murad Merali said about the accusations?
After trending on social media, Murad released a YouTube video which was titled, "Addressing my past."
"I don’t know how I’m going to begin this video but everything needs to be addressed with immediate effect," he says at the beginning of the video, which was issued with a trigger warning due to the heavy subject matter.
Murad confirmed that he was the man in some of the videos posted on Twitter, but not all, although he denied being behind the racist captions that were written when the videos were posted. He said, "First and foremost the written content is not me, the severely derogatory comments are not written by me and I will stand by that – this is not who I am. Some of this content is also not me and I can profusely apologise, I take full accountability for how this has come across and how everybody has felt from this content. Some of this content is me, not now, not recently, in the last five to six years, not any moment now.”
He continued, "I don’t know how I’m going to say all of this but I’m just going to speak from the heart and speak it on camera and just talk. These screenshots associated with these pictures, this vile racist verbiage that has been used is not written by me. This is not done by me in any capacity and this needs to be made abundantly clear with full force immediately. All of this needs to be addressed. I did not write this stuff. People make their own captions, they mix it with their own pictures for their own satisfaction, their own desires, with their own fantasies, their own ideations – whatever they have. They then put it together for their own mental satisfaction for whatever desire that they have as a person.”
Murad told his subscribers that he'd previously created an OnlyFans and posted fetish content in order to make money so he could escape an abusive situation after he was "severely raped" when he was 14 years old.
"I said to myself I need to do whatever the f--k I need to do to get out of this place or it’s going to happen again to me. So I did just that. I developed these fetishes, this foot fetish, I developed it through what happened to me. I needed to make money, that was my only goal to make money. It was all about money, money, money, money because money is what I needed to get out of a place that I was being brutally f--king raped in. This is the truth. This is who I am. This is who Murad Merali is and I’m saying it to you now and I’m going to be transparent about every f--king little thing because this is who I am," he said.
He ended the video by saying, "I appreciate everybody who’s watched this very serious video because the content is very heavy. Just to reiterate the very racist captions were not written by me. I did not sit there and do that at all.”
What has Amber Gill said about Murad Merali?
Love Island 2019 winner Amber Gill and Murad Merali were friends but now she's spoken out about the scandal.
On Twitter she wrote, "I’m sick to death of people try to get engagement from me on this situation. Shut the f--k up? 'I talk a lot' ok????"
She later went on to brand the scandal as 'disturbing' by tweeting, "And surely you can understand it’s way more offensive and disturbing for me than for random people.
"This isn’t a situation where I have a hot take I’m disgusted and it will take a while to process."
Murad Merali on Love Island
While Murad has never appeared on Love Island himself, he rose to fame online by posting reaction videos to the show before going on to interview former Islanders on his podcast and YouTube channel. His recent interviews have featured the likes of Coco Lodge, Niall Aslam, Chyna Mills, Josh Samuel Le Grove, Rachel Finni and Sherif Lanre.
What happened between Murad Merali and Nas Majeed?
Murad was friends with 2020 Islander Nas Majeed for ten years and even helped him prepare for the show, however they fell out when Nas left the villa after he apparently took issue with comments Murad had made in his videos.
In a YouTube video, Murad claimed falling out with Nas had "crippled" his mental health and sent him into "deep depression".
Does Murad Merali have a podcast?
Murad hosts a podcast where he regularly interviews Love Island stars. The Murad Merali podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Acast.
What is Murad Merali's Instagram?
Murad Merali is on Instagram at @murad_merali.
What is Murad Merali's Twitter?
Murad's also on Twitter at @MuradMerali.
What is Murad Merali's YouTube?
Murad's Love Island interviews, reactions and opinion videos are available on his YouTube channel.