NUS President Malia Bouitta speaks out on accusations of anti-Semitism

‘I am deeply concerned at accusations of antisemitism’

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Malia Bouattia has hit back on the hostile response to her appointment as the President of the NUS, as Cambridge students submit a motion calling for CUSU disaffiliation with the National student union.

Bouattia, the first Muslim and the first black woman to be appointed as President of NUS, as she is keen to stress in her article for The Guardian, has faced serious accusations of anti-Semitism from students across the country. In her first article and press release upon becoming President of the National Union of Students, Bouattia was clearly keen to address the allegations of antisemitism through a dramatic title ‘I’m the new NUS president – and no, I’m not an antisemitic Isis sympathiser’.

Perhaps you have a bit of a PR problem is you have to clarify you aren't a racist in your first Press Release

Perhaps you have a bit of a PR problem is you have to clarify you aren’t a racist in your first Press Release

Speaking out against an NUS motion to condemn IS, slamming the University of Birmingham as ‘something of a Zionist outpost in British higher education’ has led to an outpouring of anger across the country, not just within Cambridge itself.

Birmingham University was described as a Zionist outpost by Bouattia

Birmingham University was described as a Zionist outpost by Bouattia

Responding to the criticism, Bouattia maintained: ‘Some may not agree with my politics and ideologies, but I do believe the student movement has a shared goal’. Arguing that her comments were entirely misrepresented, she vowed to correct any possible confusion over her policies in the future and assured to always ensure NUS is purely political, not one stirred by faith or ethnic identity.

Indeed, within her article, Bouattia went as far to say that ‘newspaper reports this week still depict me as a young Muslim who supports Isis,’ partially due to her campaigning against the government’s anti-terror programme ‘Prevent’, the proposed implementation of which has led to controversy upon campuses across the country, including within Cambridge.

Will this clarification stop the campaign to disaffiliate?

Will this clarification stop the campaign to disaffiliate?

Cleverly moving away from the accusations made towards her and focussing on her campaign itself by the end of the article, Bouitta stressed that she would be dedicated to dealing with issues of ‘the black attainment gap, hate crime on our campuses, or the increasing inequality that permeates our education system and beyond’.

With The Union of Jewish Students admitting that “questions still need to be answered” over Bouattia’s response to the concerns of Jewish students, and students in Cambridge demanding that CUSU cuts all ties with NUS, it is clear that Bouattia faces an upward struggle ahead of her, despite this clarification.

Whether a case of student political correctness gone wrong or completely justified accusations, it is clear that Bouitta’s response will do little to stem the criticism from pitchforking-wielding students.