American talk show host Bill Maher has sparked outrage after comparing ex-One Direction star Zayn Malik to one of the Boston Marathon terrorists.

On his Real Time show, Maher spoke of Zayn’s exit from 1D but made a shocking ‘joke’ when he likened Zayn to a terrorist.

And now Directioners are up in arms, branding the chat show host a ‘racist’ and showering Zayn with support on Twitter.

During a skit in his show, Bill said: ‘Just tell me two things Zayn, which one of the band were you? And where were you during the Boston marathon?’

An image of Zayn next to Boston Marathon murderer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev then appeared on screen with Bill grinning as he suggested they looked alike.

The audience broke into muffled laughter but Directioners found the comparison less than funny with the hashtag #RespectForZayn soon trending.

Bill had joked ahead of his show how he was preparing to discuss the news Zayn had quit the band on his Twitter page:

Bill Maher

pulling myself together to do my show tonight after news of Zayn Malik quitting 1 Direction. Next stage in his career? Rejoining 1 Direction

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source: metro UK