The National Union of Students (NUS) has sacked its president Shaima Dallali. The union claims it’s because of her alleged antisemitism. However, some people and organisations disagree – saying it shows open Islamophobia from the NUS. Moreover, the accusations of antisemitism against Dallali concerned a tweet she sent 10 years ago. And to top this all off, the NUS sacked her on the first day of Islamophobia Awareness Month.
NUS: sacking its own president
As the Guardian reported, members of the NUS elected Dallali in July. Almost immediately afterwards, in August, the union suspended her while it investigated claims of antisemitism. One of the allegations was about a tweet Dallali posted in 2012 which read:
Khaybar Khaybar O Jews … Muhammad’s army will return Gaza
Dallali was 17 when she posted the tweet. As the Canary reported in May, she has since apologised for it. Since then, people have hurled racist and Islamophobic abuse at her online due to the situation. Dallali said of this:
Unfortunately, as a black Muslim woman, it is something that I expected because I’ve seen it happen to other black Muslim women when they take up positions in the student union or the NUS, where they are attacked based on their political beliefs or their pro-Palestinian stance.
Yet it was the Khaybar tweet and other undisclosed accusations that led to the NUS sacking Dallali.
The NUS says…
Following the independent [King’s Counsel]-led investigation into allegations of antisemitism, specifically into the then president-elect under the NUS code of conduct, an independent panel has found that significant breaches of NUS policies have taken place. As per this finding, we have terminated the president’s contract. In strict accordance with rules around employees and confidentiality, we will not be sharing any further details on the investigation into the president,” the NUS said. “We can assure any interested parties that this process has been incredibly robust and that we can and must trust in the outcome.
We know that there will be strong feelings around this issue, so we urge people to respect this process and to refrain from taking part in or perpetuating any abuse, particularly online, towards anyone involved in this matter.
There are indeed strong feelings around the NUS’s sacking of Dallali.
The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) said in a statement that it has:
come to the conclusion that NUS is no longer an organisation that take Muslims or Islamophobia seriously and therefore is not a safe space for Muslims. Following numerous attempts to engage NUS and its leadership, no satisfactory outcome has been reached. 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.
On this basis, the NUS sacking Dallali on the first day of Islamophobia Awareness Month does seem highly politicised.
“Islamophobia is rife”
Over on social media, people were defending Dallali. Academic Tarek Younis stated that the NUS’s sacking of Dallali was “outrageous”:
This is outrageous, @ShaimaDallali's sacking as NUS president is not only a terrible injustice to her, but an affront to all Muslim students across the UK who speak out for Palestine https://t.co/z5VSXvMPym
— Tarek Younis (@Tarek_Younis_) November 1, 2022
Dr Nilufar Ahmed called the NUS’s treatment of Dallali “horrific”:
Islamophobia is rife in UK universities. The treatment of @ShaimaDallali is horrific. The lack of institutional support she is receiving from @nusuk mirrors the experiences of many Muslim students (and staff) in UK Higher Education. Policies and people treat Muslims with contempt https://t.co/yhE1lnDddK
— Dr Nilufar Ahmed (@ahmed_nilufar) October 27, 2022
To compound all this, Dallali revealed that the NUS had not told her it had sacked her. She only found out about the dismissal via social media:
On the first day of Islamophobia Awareness Month, I find out I have been dismissed through Twitter.
That is unacceptable.
— Shaima Dallali (@ShaimaDallali) November 1, 2022
Meanwhile, the FOSIS has said that it’s:
calling on all Islamic societies, friends and those who oppose Islamophobia to organise and lead disaffiliation campaigns against the NUS on their campuses.
Without full disclosure from the NUS, it is impossible to draw any other conclusion other than that its sacking of Dallali was politicised and laced with Islamophobia. She, and other Muslim students, deserve better.
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