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NUS President boycotts Tory conference over ‘sickening Islamophobia’

The event’s host was nominated for ‘Islamophobe of the Year’

The NUS president is boycotting the Conservative party conference over claims of Islamophobia at a fringe event.

Zamzam Ibrahim made the announcement in response to comments which she says show "sickening Islamophobia" made at the "Challenging Islamophobia" fringe event, run by the Policy Exchange thinktank.

One person present said they were "jealous" of a fellow speaker being nominated as "Islamophobe of the Year". Afterwards, the speaker, Peter Tatchell said it was an ironic joke.

Another speaker defended Boris Johnson's description of women wearing burqas as letterboxes as "satirical".

"As President of @nusuk and a Muslim woman I cannot in good conscience participate in a Conference that openly denies the existence of Islamophobia," Zamzam said.

During the event, a Muslim audience member reportedly said he was unsure whether the panel was aiming to challenge or promote Islamophobia.

Zamzam's full thread reads:"I came to Manchester for #CPC19. I had every intention of proudly representing millions of students across our country. However, as President of @nusuk and a Muslim woman I cannot in good conscience participate in a Conference that openly denies the existence of Islamophobia.

"Yesterday, I was horrified to see reports of what was sickening Islamophobia arising from an official Tory Party fringe entitled ‘Challenging Islamophobia’. Here, panelists denied the existence of anti-Muslim bigotry and toasted to their being labelled ‘Islamophobe of the Year’.

"A Muslim Tory Party member was forced to ask whether the panel was setup to ‘promote Islamophobia rather than challenge it’. With anti-Muslim hate crimes soaring, for such dangerous rhetoric to be spread at the Conference of our governing Party is abhorrent; it must be condemned.

"You can't deny my own lived experiences, and the racism faced by Muslims from the far-right, parts of our media and in communities across our country daily. You can't hide from this deep and horrific problem. For this reason I have withdrawn from all engagements at #CPC19."

However, those at the event have defended themselves. Trevor Phillips, the event's chair, said it had been misreported.

Another speaker, Peter Tatchell, said: "Every speaker at the event condemned prejudice, harassment and discrimination against the Muslim community.

He also said people were expressing concern at "parliament's sweeping definition of Islamophobia."

Policy Exchange, the thinktank who hosted the event, said: "The panellists, including two practising Muslims, Dr Qanta Ahmed and the Tory MP Nusrat Ghani, were clear that such bigotry exists and must be rooted out wherever it is found."

“Some panellists argued that the term anti-Muslim hatred or prejudice would be more useful than Islamophobia but at no point did anyone either on the panel or in the audience argue that such hatred is not a feature of our society, including the Conservative party itself.”