A motion fell at a recent Nation Union of Students (NUS) National Exec Council (NEC) meeting refusing to condemn the terrorist organisation ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
At first glance, this decision seems like a terrible one to make, but in my opinion the reasoning behind the decision is justified.
Agreeing to the motion that was put forward would also promote students to boycott groups who are aiding the Islamic State with man power, goods or funding terrorist training.
Black Students Officer Malia Bouattia said that students willing to challenge the Islamic State in any shape or form could result in “a justification for war and is blatant Islamophobia waiting to happen”. The motion then fell when it came to a vote.
According to the debate, it was said that there was no “confidence or trust in the US military intervention” of the situation in Syria and Iraq. Malia replied to this by stating that she supported black communities around the world and was against any military, imperial or western interference because historically, it leads to suffering of black people.
The vote that took place at the NEC meeting was blogged by Daniel Cooper, who said: “I have looked again and again at the contents of the motion, yet I cannot track any Islamophobia or racism”.
On October 15 an NUS spokesperson said: “The wording of the motion would demonise all Muslims rather than condemn the group of people it has set out to criticise.
“The NUS does not support ISIS and a new motion will be taken to the next NUS National Executive Committee meeting, which will specifically condemn the politics and methods of ISIS and offer solidarity for the Iraqi Kurdish people”.
Within the same NEC meeting, the NUS agreed to boycott UKIP and to send emails around the UK on polling day to every student pleading them to reject UKIP and its racist manifesto and oversimplification rhetoric.
Yousuf Bhikha, President of the Islamic Society (ISoc) at UCLan said that the Islamic State group shouldn’t be classed as within the same realm as Muslims at all. “It [ISIS] does not stand for the same values as ISoc or my fellow Muslims.” He said.
Now, before the British people climb on their high horse and start to criticise Maria Bouttia’s speech, and the decision to not condemn ISIS, dragging in reasons that could lead to ‘tarnishing all Muslims with the same brush’, Britain needs to take a step back and look at its own historical routes.
In 1905, Britain declared the Alien’s Act which controversially saw British law restrict the immigration of Jews that were facing violent riots of persecution and legal discrimination solely aimed at ethnic and religious groups. Anti-Semitism against Jewish people was widespread in 19th and 20th Europe even in countries and areas where a Jew had never even been. This widespread hatred towards the Jews can be identified in the practices of the Christian Church who were adamant to spread stereotypical ideas of the Jew to be a demonic and repulsive entity.
Although the Alien’s Act was introduced over a century ago in Britain and the Act is now abolished, we still try to create these stereotypes of ‘the terrorist’ who are deemed as the bad guys. It is us Brits though who allow our State to use smart weaponry to kill a specific target such as a terrorist, but create a denial of responsibility when these smart bombs kill innocent victims in the process. We tell ourselves that it’s the ‘state’s fault’ and these victims become described as ‘collateral damage.’
What Maria Bouttia is then trying to halt is for any mechanisms of labelling towards the Islamic community in the UK as an entity which can easily be associated with ISIS. She is also not trying to offend the British public by disgracing the memory of British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines who were savagely murdered by ISIS rebels.
What Maria is trying to establish is a sense of reason for the British people to not follow what is seen to be the conventional narrative, to critique our state and not just assume that their actions are for the people’s benefit, because war in historical terms has only benefited the ruling class and left the majority lower class worse off.