U.K. Student Union Rejects anti-Islamic State Motion Amid Claims of 'Islamophobia'

Meanwhile, a London university union rejects motion to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day that some members said was 'eurocentric.'

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Demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State slogans as they carry the group's flags in Iraq.
Demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State slogans as they carry the group's flags in Iraq.Credit: AP

The U.K.'s national student union has rejected a motion condemning the Islamic State amid claims that it is Islamophobic.

Last month, the motion calling on the body to condemn the brutal Sunni militant group was put to the National Union of Students' National Executive Council.

The motion urged students "to condemn the IS and support Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention,” according to student news website The Tab. It also called for unity among Muslims.

The motion had already been adopted by Scotland's national student union, but Black Students Officer Malia Bouattia called on students to reject it when it reached the NUS executive council meeting in September.

“We recognize that condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamaphobia," The Tab cited her as saying. “This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend."

Bouattia, a student of postcolonial theory and language at the University of Birmingham, is planning to put forward a new motion against IS that will “in no way pander to Western imperialistic intervention or the demonization of Muslim peoples.”

Daniel Cooper, one of three people behind the rejected motion, wrote about the meeting on his blog. “I have looked again and again at the contents of the motion, yet I cannot track any Islamophobia or racism,” he wrote. He also noted that the motion specified that it did not express "confidence or trust in the U.S. military intervention."

An NUS spokesman said in response: “At our most recent NEC meeting, a motion on this issue was presented and voted on by all members. Some committee members felt that the wording of the motion being presented would unfairly demonize 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.”

Meanwhile, the student union at London's Goldsmiths University this week rejected a motion to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day and other victims of genocide for being "eurocentric."

The motion, brought to a vote at the Goldsmiths Students’ Assembly Tuesday, was rejected by 60 votes to 1, The Tab reported.

Goldsmiths University Education Officer Sarah El-alfy urged students to reject the "eurocentric" motion, according to The Tab. Another student who attended the meeting tweeted that the union is "anti-Zionist" and that the motion was "colonialist"

The motion stated: "The Student Union recognizes the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, of the other genocides, of totalitarianism and racial hatred. It further recognises that commemorating the victims of genocide, racial hatred and totalitarianism, and promoting public awareness of these crimes against humanity, is essential to sustaining and defending democratic culture and civil society, especially in the face of a resurgence of neo-fascism, racial hatred and neo-Stalinism across Europe."

The motion suggested that the union organize commemorative events on Holocaust Memorial Day, on the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, on the Holodomor Genocide Memorial Day Act and on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Howard Littler, president of the union described the incident as "a storm in a teacup."

“There was a broad range of political backgrounds in the room. There was the opinion that the motion could have been more inclusive. We intend to bring in a more exhaustive list to add to the Holocaust motion at the next meeting," the report cited him as saying.

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