Students at leading universities in the United Kingdom are launching bids to break ties with the National Union of Students (NUS) following the election of Malia Bouattia to the presidency.
Bouattia previously opposed a student motion condemning the Islamic State on the grounds that to do so would be “Islamophobic” and would “unfairly demonise all Muslims” according to a statement put out by the NUS at the time.
She later argued that her opposition to the motion was due to its wording and not to its content.
That vote took place in October 2014 when Bouattia was Black Students Officer. As a result of her intervention, the motion to condemn ISIS was defeated.
Bouattia was also accused of anti-Semitism in an open letter signed by every Jewish Student Society president in the country. She called Birmingham University, which has a large Jewish student population, a “Zionist outpost.” A video of her surfaced in which she gave a speech supporting armed violence against Israel on the part ofPalestinian “resistance” groups and condemned “Zionist led media.”
Students at Durham, York, Westminster, Birmingham, Edinburgh, King’s College of London and the London School of Economics are now campaigning to disaffiliate from the Nation Union of Students in protest. The NUS is an umbrella organization that represents some 600 organizations with seven million members nationwide.
Yet others have defended Bouattia. In an article in the Guardian, Imran Amrani argued that attacks on Bouattia’s record are motivated by her Muslim identity, saying, “It seems Muslims come in for special attention when seeking a public role.” Amrani headlined the piece “Attacks on the new NUS president show the limit of free expression for Muslims.”
Bouattia’s record is especially worrying for Jewish students, but should worry all who oppose Islamism. Her stances neatly divide student politics into pro- and anti-Muslim, and tries to force the overwhelming majority of Jewish students, who are mainly Zionist, onto the “anti-Muslim” side.
By arguing that condmentation of the Islamic State would demonise all Muslims, she has sent the message that the Islamic State is a Muslim group which is connected to the Muslim population in the UK.
This will inflame community tensions and plays right into the hands of the Islamic State.
Bouattia has published a defence of her stance in the Guardian, titled “I’m the New NUS President – and no, I’m not an antisemitic ISIS sympathizer”