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Ousting of Muslim NUS President condemned

25th Nov 2022
Ousting of Muslim NUS President condemned

Photo courtesy of Shaima Dallali

Hamed Chapman

The National Union of Students (NUS) is accused of being “not a safe place for Muslims” after Shaima Dallali became its first president to be summarily ousted following antisemitism allegations made before even, she took up her elected post in July.

“The investigation into Shaima has been deeply politicised from the outset, and due process has not been followed, opening Shaima up to the court of public opinion and denying her the opportunity to fairly represent herself,” the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) said in a statement issued on November 1.

“NUS’ failings with regards to Shaima reflect its failings towards Muslim students at large – and these reflect its dereliction of duty towards its membership at large,” FOSIS said, accusing the mainstream umbrella body that embraces 600 affiliated student unions of not being fit for purpose.

Pressure was also coincidentally exerted on the NUS by the British government severing all ties, including funding in May this year citing antisemitic concerns.

Dallali,27, who was elected at the NUS Annual Conference in March for a two-year term from July, revealed ironically on the first day of Islamophobia Awareness Month on Nov 1, she had not even been told that she had been dismissed, saying she “only found out on Twitter,”.

The Muslim Council of Britain said the summary dismissal of the Black Muslim NUS President, who faced a deluge of Islamophobia abuse herself, was “deeply troubling and raises questions on proper due process.”

“Many Muslim students fear Islamophobia on campus. This will only heighten those fears and raise questions about their place within the NUS. They are owed an explanation,” it said.

An NUS discipline panel claimed it had found “significant breaches” of a policy when Dallali was elected as president in March, yet it failed to offer any written reasons for the summary dismissal other than presumed briefings given in advance to the media.

Dallali rejected allegations about claimed antisemitism that appeared on a tweet made by her a decade before she became president, saying, according to her lawyer, she considers the investigation process against her to continue to constitute “discriminatory treatment of her as a black Muslim woman and her beliefs concerning the plight of the Palestinian people.”

Supporting the campaign against her, the Union of Jewish Students said antisemitism in the student movement goes beyond the actions of any one individual and that “Jewish students across the country will be asking how an individual deemed unfit for office by NUS was elected in the first place.”

Education Minister, Robert Halfon, also welcomed the decision, tweeting that this is “only the first step in addressing antisemitism allegations within the organisation” and that he was “very keen to see further action that they are taking concerns from Jewish students seriously.”

Labour Shadow Minister, Wes Streeting, a former NUS president, also commended the ousting of Dallali while rejecting claims she was a victim of sexism and racism herself, and also agreed the government was “right” to withdraw from engaging with the NUS.

At the time of her suspension in August, Dallali said on Twitter: “Don’t ever believe that an organisation is ‘progressive’ or cares about justice before finding out how they treat women of colour and/or Muslim women. Many enable oppression and Islamophobia. They will punish us for daring to be political and make us believe it’s our fault.”

 

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Editorial: NUS unsafe space for Muslims

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