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UK: Muslim students threaten to disaffiliate from NUS after Islamophobia claims

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies said it would urge its members to disaffiliate after Shaima Dallali was reportedly suspended from the union
Shaima Dallali
Dallali was elected at the last National Union of Students conference by delegates from across the UK for a two-year term as president of the union (Screengrab)

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis), the national body for Muslim students in Britain, has threatened to launch a disaffiliation campaign against the National Union of Students (NUS) after the NUS suspended its president-elect, Shaima Dallali. 

Earlier this year, Jewish students accused Dallali of antisemitism and homophobia over a number of tweets dating back to 2012.

Dallali apologised for the tweets and has welcomed the QC-led investigation into her actions.

But following a leaked report that the NUS had suspended an elected president for the first time in its one-hundred-year history, Fosis said it would urge its members to launch disaffiliation campaigns across the UK against the national body. 

In a statement published on Friday evening, Fosis said the NUS had a track record of failing to help Muslim students acting in elected positions within the organisation and student unions across the country. 

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"For many years, Fosis has dealt with troubling cases of Islamophobia experienced by Islamic Societies, Muslim sabbatical officers and the wider Muslim student community in both Higher and Further Education," Fosis said in a statement. 

"This active targeting of Muslim students through a systematic pattern of over-scrutiny, bad faith allegations and subjugation to a disproportionate level of disciplinaries using Islamophobic tropes reflects prejudice and endemic bigotry that spans the entire educational journey of Muslim students.

"What Shaima is experiencing is a clear extension of institutional Islamophobia within the education sector, and it is apparent that NUS' attitude towards Shaima is a manifestation of this oppression."

Following her election, Dallali, a Black Muslim woman of Tunisian descent, told the Guardian that she feared for her safety after receiving a torrent of online abuse and threats.

Before she was elected NUS president, Dallali served as president at City University in London. 

Dallali was then duly elected to serve as NUS president at the body's last national conference, which saw hundreds of delegates from across the UK vote for her. 

She was due to start her new role in July, and serve in that position for a two-year term. 

In May, following Dallali's election, the UK government's education minister said it would sever ties to the NUS over antisemitism claims and replace it with "alternative" student representation. 

Founded in 1963, Fosis serves as an umbrella body serving Muslim students attending universities and further education institutions across the UK and Ireland. 

Dallali did not respond to requests for comment at the time of writing.

An NUS spokesperson declined to comment on the claims that Dallali had been suspended from the organisation. 

"We cannot comment at this time as we are in the middle of an independent QC-led investigation into allegations of antisemitism. But as we have said before, we are prepared to take any and all actions recommended by Rebecca Tuck's investigation," the NUS spokesperson told MEE. 

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