Student Rights motion from NUS prompts nasty war of words

Claims and counterclaims fly over group that monitors extremist speakers

May 16, 2014

Islam Muslim

The National Union of Students has condemned a group that monitors extremist speakers on campus as an “insidious” organisation whose work has led to “witch hunts” against Muslims.

But Student Rights, which published a report in May 2013 that suggested a quarter of university Islamic society events it monitored had enforced gender segregation, has hit back and said the NUS condemnation has been pushed by a group which itself has links to Islamic extremists.

The NUS National Executive Committee passed the motion condemning the organisation on Tuesday. 

In a statement, Aaron Kiely, the NUS black students officer, said: “The unanimous condemnation of Student Rights by the NUS National Executive Council is a big step forward in the fight against this insidious organisation that has led witch hunts of the Muslim community.

“Student Rights are not a legitimate organisation, [they have] a total lack of transparency, and have been the source of many sensationalist stories demonising Muslims.”

Student Rights’ report on gender segregation last year hit the headlines, and prompted a major political row after Universities UK released guidance in November that suggested that universities would legally have to allow gender segregation if a religious speaker demanded it.

A group called Real Student Rights is coordinating a campaign against Student Rights and has already secured motions against the group by several university student unions.

On its website, Student Rights said that the condemnation showed that the NUS was “failing utterly to challenge extremism and hate-speakers”.

It alleged Real Student Rights had links to extremist speakers, including that the group had previously asked for support from Hamza Tzortzis, a speaker at the Islamic Education and Research Academy, which was banned from University College London for allegedly trying to segregate a debate by gender.

Given these links “their motivation for attacking an organisation dedicated to keeping the kind of extremism and bigotry they look to promote off campus is obvious”, Student Rights said.

“The NUS should be taken to task for having failed to perform even perfunctory background checks on the ‘Real Students Rights’ activists making their lurid claims,” the statement said.

Responding, Hilary Aked, a supporter of Real Student Rights and doctoral student at the University of Bath, said: “Student Rights’ response is predictably characterised by highly tenuous, immature mud-flinging and meaningless ‘extremism’ smears.”

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

As the pay of BBC on-air talent is revealed, one academic comes clean about his salary

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Capsized woman and boat

Early career academics can be left to sink or swim when navigating the choppy waters of learning scholarly writing. Helen Sword says a more formal, communal approach can help everyone, especially women

Thorns and butterflies

Conditions that undermine the notion of scholarly vocation – relentless work, ubiquitous bureaucracy – can cause academics acute distress and spur them to quit, says Ruth Barcan