NUS Votes Against Condemning Islamic State - Because It Would Be 'Islamophobic'

15/10/2014 11:38 | Updated 15 October 2014
AP/AP

The National Union of Students has been widely mocked after it voted against a motion to reject Islamic State (IS) - because it would be "Islamophobic" to do so.

The NUS rejected an "Iraqi solidarity" motion part-written by Roza Salih, a Strathclyde University student of Kurdish descent, to the National Executive Council (NEC), which urged the union to stand by the thousands of Yazidi Kurds who have been massacred by the terrorist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

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The proposal was opposed by Malia Bouattia, the NUS' black students' officer, who argued the motion was Islamophobic and pro-American military intervention. Although the meeting took place in September, it has only recently been brought to light - by an article on the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) site.

The motion, which can be read in full here, proposed to support Iraqi, Syrian and other international students affected by Islamic State extremism.

The group of students also urged the union to condemn IS and "support the Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention".

The author of the NCAFC article, Daniel Cooper, who sits on the NEC and proposed the condemnation, recalled: "The motion then fell as large numbers of NEC members either abstained or voted against (including the bulk of the political Left on NEC). I think this says a lot about the current state of the student movement."

According to Cooper, Salih had also submitted an identical proposal to the Scottish arm of the council - which had been passed.

As Cooper points out, instead of making an amendment to the proposition, "the whole motion – which calls for solidarity with oppressed forces in Iraq – was argued as wrong".

"This is a grave shame," Cooper continues. "There is a stranglehold of 'identity politics' on the student movement. This is an issue which needs to be discussed in more depth, but essentially the idea is widespread that if a Liberation Officer opposes something, it must be bad.

"Many people who voted against [the motion] didn’t care about [what] is happening in Iraq."

Now, campaigners, academics and political figures have expressed their shock at the decision:

Previously, the NUS has condemned pop star Robin Thicke, and voted to boycott Israel - a decision which proved to be highly controversial.

Bouattia published a Facebook post on Monday on behalf of the NUS' black students' campaign, saying the union stood in "complete solidarity" with Kurdish people against the recent attacks by ISIS.

"We.. join many others in condemnation of [Islamic State's] brutal actions. In doing so we recognise that condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamaphobia...

".. A motion will be taken to the next NUS National Executive which truly reflects the situation. This motion will pose a condemnation of the politics and methods of ISIS as well as unequivocal support for the Kurdish people. It will in no way pander to Western imperialistic intervention or the demonisation of Muslim peoples."

An NUS spokesperson said "of course" the union did not support Islamic State, and a new motion would be taken to the next committee meeting.

"Some committee members felt that the wording of the motion being presented would unfairly demonise all Muslims rather than solely the group of people it set out to rightfully condemn.

"Of course NUS does not support ISIS and a new motion will be taken to the next NUS National Executive Committee meeting, which will specifically condemn the politics and methods of ISIS and offer solidarity for the Kurdish people."

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