Tide Turns Against Anti-Extremist Student Rights, As NUS Condemns Group

Tide Turns Against Anti-Extremist Student Rights
Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights
Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights

The tide appears to be turning against an anti-extremist group following a motion by the National Union of Students to condemn the organisation.

Student Rights, directed by Raheem Kassam, has been challenged by students for "demonising Muslims" after the group released a report on campus extremism - which the NUS dubbed a witch hunt.

A counter group, Real Student Rights (RSR) was subsequently formed by concerned students in response to the controversial report, and claims Student Rights has a "complete lack of transparency.. whip[s] up Islamophobia on campus.. [and has] a counterproductive, illegitimate and harmful voice".

RSR, formed by students, aimed to "publicly discredit the group" and "reduce the credibility afforded to them by universities".

Student Rights had already started haemorrhaging support; LibDem MP Tom Brake quit the board and seven student unions signed an anti-Student Rights motion proposed by the RSR. On Tuesday, the group was dealt another blow when the NUS voted to publicly and formally condemn Student Rights.

Aaron Kiely, the NUS' black students officer, told The Huffington Post UK: "The unanimous condemnation of Student Rights by the NUS National Executive Council is a big step forward in the fight against this insidious organisation that has led witch hunts of the Muslim community.

"Student Rights are not a legitimate organisation, with a total lack of transparency and have been the source of many sensationalist stories demonising Muslims. They are totally discredited and NUS condemning them will hopefully put an end to this toxic organisation."

Mohamed Harrath, co-founder of RSR, added: "We at the Real Student Rights campaign view this as a huge victory for grassroots student campaigners and decisive proof that the organisation has no right to claim to be protecting or representing students."

Calls are now being made for politician Jim Fitzpatrick to follow Brake and quit the board. The Poplar and Limehouse MP previously disclosed to HuffPost UK he had asked to be removed from Student Rights, but after a meeting with the group, decided to continue with his support.

A statement released by Student Rights read: "The Real Student Rights group.. are attempting to shut down the debate on campus extremism with false claims, harassment and bullying, despite the government regularly stressing the importance of challenging this issue.

"Although a small group of NUS executives may have passed a motion which failed the democratic test at conference this year, this will not stop our successful work in challenging extremism, regardless of its provenance".

Fitzpatrick has been contacted for comment but has yet to respond.

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