The newly-elected National Union of Students president has hit back at the mainstream media which has targeted her since her landmark election.
Malia Boattia was elected NUS president last week, thus becoming the first black Muslim woman to be selected for the prestigious position. But since then she has been targeted by the mainstream media because of her opposition to Israel and the government’s Prevent counter-extremism strategy.
Writing in the Guardian she said: “The truth is, as those who know me well understand, I’ve always been a strong campaigner against racism and fascism in all its forms. And I’d like to set a few things straight.
“Specifically, on the claims that I refused to condemn Isis: two years ago I delayed a National Executive Council motion condemning Isis – but that was because of its wording, not because of its intent. Its language appeared to condemn all Muslims, not just the terror group. Once it was worded correctly I proposed and wholly supported the motion.
“Yet newspaper reports this week still depict me as a young Muslim who supports Isis. This is simply not true.”
Bouattia also said there was no place for antisemitism in the student movement, or in society.
“I am deeply concerned at accusations of antisemitism. In an open letter last week in response to concerns raised about my candidacy by Jewish students, I sought to allay their fears, and answered all points put to me honestly.
“I want to be clear, again, that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is in no way me taking issue with being Jewish. In fact, Zionist politics are held by people from a variety of different backgrounds and faiths. For me it has been, and will always be, a political argument, not one of faith or ethnic identity. Zionism, religion and ethnicity must not be seen as one and the same. If the language I have used in the past has been interpreted any other way then let me make this clear – it was never my intention, although my political ideologies and beliefs remain unchanged.
Bouattia also stood by her opposition to Prevent.
“I’ve also been accused of being an extremist for campaigning against this government’s Prevent agenda. But this is an unjust and prejudiced scheme that puts all our civil liberties under threat. Prevent is also opposed by the UK’s teaching and academic unions, by politicians, human rights groups, and by my colleagues within the NUS. Yet when a Muslim woman speaks out on this, it seems she is suddenly a danger, and a matter of national concern.”