BME Network Chair who told Jewish student to “be like Israel and cease to exist” is now running for SU Equality officer

‘Omar’s record of racism makes him totally unsuitable for an anti-racism position,’ Jewish student says

BME Network Chair Omar Chowdhury is running for the position of Equality, Liberation and Access (ELA) officer in the upcoming SU elections, a year after it became apparent he’d told a Jewish student to “be like Israel and cease to exist.”

The slur was made in the comment section of a Bristruth in April 2018, but re-emerged after Omar was elected SU BME Network Chair, with a manifesto including “zero tolerance for racism.”

Shortly after the incident, Chowdhury apologised for his “ignorant, offensive…and unacceptable comments.”

One student replied to Chowdhury’s words, in the comment section of a Bristruth, saying, “if they don’t kick them off the SU committee it is such a double standard.

“Jewish people are repeatedly swept under the rug. People are continually allowed to get way with this stuff. We need to set a precedent.”

Chowdhury remained in his position, and is now going for the role of ELA officer, which pays a yearly salary of £22,039.

The SU website says that the ELA officer “leads on ensuring that all students’ voices are represented within the Union and University and leads on eliminating all barriers and forms of discrimination.”

Seb Sultan, a Jewish, third year Politics and IR student said: “Omar’s record of racism makes him totally unsuitable for an anti-racism position. Rather than building bridges, he has further inflamed tensions with Jewish students in his role as BME Network chair.”

Others contending the position of ELA officer include,  Catreya Mably, Sian Amekuedi, Izzie Castle and current ELA officer, Jason Palmer.

Jason Palmer and the SU have also recently come under fire for their “complete failure to support muslim students.”

Jason Palmer (ELA Officer) responding to criticism at the SU AMM

Omar Chowdhury was one of the main people at the SU’s Annual Member’s Meeting (AMM) to criticise an open letter from the SU accusing the uni of “institutionalised racism.”

The letter didn’t mention Muslim students and according to Chowdhury, was “racist, because the letter does not represent BME students, because it was not done in consultation with the representative of BME students.”

Muslim students also criticised what they believed was Palmer’s lack of support for Islamaphobia Awareness Month and their allowing of a contentious event on campus involving a former General in the Israel Defence Force and a former British Colonel.

In response, Palmer stated: “Very simply, nothing more should have to happen for us to be fighting for you.”

He listed various examples of attempts to reach out to the Muslim community and work that had been done, however he said: “I am happy to personally apologise that I did not give as much support as I should have for Islamophobia Awareness month”.

He cited personal circumstances around the time of those events, and reiterated that he and the team were fully supportive of their efforts.

Students voting at the AMM

Campaigning for SU Elections begins today.

As well as ELA officer the other positions up for grabs include Undergraduate Education Officer, Postgraduate Education Officer, International Officer, Union Affairs Officer, Sports and Student Development Officer, and Student Living Officer.

Voting opens at 9:00 am on Tuesday 10th March.

For more information, click here.