COUNTDOWN star Rachel Riley has finally issued an apology after twice doubling-down on a “racist” Twitter post connecting the stabbings at a Sydney mall to a rise in support for Palestine.

Six people – five women and a male Pakistani Muslim security guard – were killed by an Australian knife attacker in the Westfield shopping centre at Bondi Junction on Saturday.

In the immediate wake of the attack, Riley linked the murders to Palestinian supporters, sparking calls for Channel 4 to step in.

READ MORE: Baby 'doing well' after being saved by mother amid horror stabbing in Sydney

Riley wrote on Twitter/X: “For six months now, people have been out on our streets proudly calling for the ‘Intifada Revolution’. If you want to know what ‘Globalised Intifada’ looks like, see the Sydney Mall.”

In the context of Palestine, the word “intifada” is used to mean resistance, violent or non-violent, against Israeli occupation.

Riley faced a severe backlash to her post, including calls for Channel 4 – for which she presents on shows such as Countdown and 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown – to fire her.

Psychiatrist and professor Ahmed Hankir wrote: “I cannot, in good conscience, remain silent. We must not remain silent.

“When we see such bigotry, Islamophobia, racism and hatred we must call it out. Rachel Riley must be held accountable for these vile and divisive comments.”

However, Riley twice doubled-down.

In her first response, written below her now-deleted original post, Riley wrote: “Global condemnation for the attack that has now claimed six innocent lives, including a 38-year-old mum protecting her baby.

“And no, the attacker being named as Joel Cauchi does not change my opinion that it is wrong for people on our streets to be calling for mass terror attacks across the world, with or without a ‘cause’, in case you’re wondering.”

Then, in a second post also written while the first remained live, she wrote: “Just to clarify, my intention with this tweet was not to say this attack was caused by any ideation or to link it to Islamic extremism.

“At the time we did not know who the attacker was, and as such I made no reference.

“My aim was to highlight the weekly calls for ‘intifada’ being tolerated in London and around the world, which in actuality means violence on our streets.

“For six months now, I have avoided taking the tube, or going with my kids to anywhere near the marches each Saturday, and each week we see the extremist chants on proud display with little outcry.

“Sadly, the type of attack seen in Sydney yesterday is exactly the kind of violence the previous intifada involved and I hope to avoid in future, but in my opinion ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf calls on international community to 'demand' ceasefire amid Iran attack

“Attacks on Jews have recently become repackaged as ‘resistance’ in some circles, and we should in one voice condemn all acts of violence, whoever the perpetrators and whoever the victims.

“I am sorry if this message was misunderstood, that was not my intention.”

Finally, on Sunday night, she deleted her original tweet and issued an apology.

Riley wrote: “I’ve thought about this all day and deleted the original tweet, so just one more post on the matter.

“I’m sorry to those I offended. My post was ambiguous and although it was genuinely designed to call out calls for violence, it wasn’t the right place or time which made it easier to misinterpret, and I apologise.

READ MORE: Laura Kuenssberg accused of pushing Tory 'gossip' live on flagship BBC show

“I know nuance isn’t popular online, and even though I’m certain many of the people calling this out are the same people who’ve been trying to shut me up or have me fired for the last six years, who would happily join in the calls for violence against their enemies, I’m also sure there are those who don’t fall into that camp, and it is to them I write this now.

“I too have been subject to assault in recent months and it was a Muslim woman and her husband who came to see if I was ok afterwards. I’m grateful to them and wish to undo any offence caused to the community.”

Riley’s eventual apology has done little to quell anger.

Ali Milani, a writer and politician who ran for Labour against Boris Johnson in his constituency in 2019, responded: “Not even ‘I have Muslim friends’, but the much less popular: ‘I met these random Muslims this one time and they helped me’.

“Islamophobia in Britain is wild.”

Author Monisha Rajesh added: “Good god it just gets worse the more she types. Maths might be her strong point but literacy and critical thinking not so much.”

Others claimed Riley had been forced into an apology for fear of losing her job, and called on Channel 4 to make a statement.

Channel 4 has been asked for comment.