FOSIS congratulates Shaima Dallali’s win and calls for an investigation into the deep-rooted Islamophobia within the NUS

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In the current climate where students’ rights to free speech are being eroded, Shaima Dallali’s settlement with NUS and their acknowledgement of her right to hold protected beliefs is a crucial step to protecting the rights of students. It is critical to affirm that pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist beliefs are protected forms of expression.

Universities are spaces for debate and learning and, therefore, university leadership and student unions must uphold their commitment to free speech. Students should not feel afraid to speak openly about their pro-Palestinian views for fear of facing anti-semitism accusations. To be pro-Palestinian is not synonymous with being anti-semitic, nor should it be treated as such. Therefore, it is pivotal that during the ongoing genocide, accusations of anti-semitisim are not weaponised against people speaking out on the rights of the Palestinian people. 

Ms Dallali’s unjust dismissal was followed by a series of abuse and Islamophobia. The NUS in a joint statement with Ms Dallali has stated they ‘categorically condemn it’. The NUS must show a commitment to preventing further cases of abuse and Islamophobia through real tangible efforts as opposed to polemics. As such, the Federation calls for an investigation into the abuse Ms Dallali experienced and into the institutional Islamophobia present within the NUS, with clear commitments to Muslim students in safeguarding their well-being and religious identity. 

If NUS has any chance of regaining the trust of Muslim students, it must take concrete steps to address the deep-rooted institutional Islamophobia within its structures. The Federation looks to work with NUS to set up policies and guidelines, as well as to provide training particularly on issues affecting Muslim students. 

NUS must recommit to its core values and work with FOSIS to protect Muslim students against Islamophobia and ensure the rights of all students to protest against apartheid and genocide.