NUS President hits back at “Isis apologist” claims

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Malia Bouattia at National Union of Students conference. Photo: NUS Press Office.

The newly elected NUS President has hit back at claims she is an Isis apologist, calling them “simply not true.”

Malia Bouattia, who unseated incumbent Megan Dunn, said she has always been a strong opponent of racism and fascism, and added her actions as NUS black students’ officer were being taken out of context.

Malia Bouattia, who unseated incumbent Megan Dunn, said she has always been a strong opponent of racism and fascism, and added her actions as NUS black students’ officer were being taken out of context.

Bouattia was attacked in the media for objecting to a Union motion which condemned the actions of Isis, leading, she said, to an “untold vitriol online – rape and death threats in abundance.”

She also came under pressure after national media reported on her anti-Zionist politics, which some accused her of being antisemitic for.

In a reply in the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Bouattia said: “I want to be clear, again, that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is in no way me taking issue with being Jewish.

“In fact, Zionist politics are held by people from a variety of different backgrounds and faiths. For me it has been, and will always be, a political argument, not one of faith or ethnic identity.”


Rebutting the pro-Isis accusations, Bouattia added she had taken issue with the wording of the NUS motion, which she said risked targeting the UK’s Muslim population, not just Isis.

She said: Specifically, on the claims that I refused to condemn Isis: two years ago I delayed a National Executive Council motion condemning Isis – but that was because of its wording, not because of its intent.

“Its language appeared to condemn all Muslims, not just the terror group. Once it was worded correctly I proposed and wholly supported the motion.”

The new President has also been against the government’s Prevent strategy in schools, in an attempt to tackle radicalisation. She argued her position is backed by many academics, who see it as an “unjust and prejudiced scheme that puts all our civil liberties under threat.”

Bouattia defeated Dunn in a closely run contest, after Dunn’s one year as NUS President. Bouattia is also the first black woman to be elected to the position.

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