back to top

The NUS Voted Against A Motion Condemning ISIS After Members Claimed It Was “Islamophobic”

The national student body told BuzzFeed News that some people on its executive committee felt it "would unfairly demonise all Muslims".

Posted on

The National Union of Students has rejected a motion condemning the militant Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, claiming the vote would be “Islamophobic”.

Reuters Tv / Reuters

At the same meeting, at the National Executive Council on 15 September, the union, which represents UK students, decided instead to pass a motion calling for a boycott of UKIP, The Tab reported.

The motion, which can be read here, called on the union to condemn ISIS and support the Kurdish forces fighting against it.

Umit Bektas / Reuters

It also called on members to campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people and support refugees.

Those found to be funding ISIS should be boycotted, it added.

The motion was rejected, however, after Malia Bouattia, the black students officer, told the meeting it appeared to be a form of Islamaphobia.

Stringer / Reuters

“We recognise that condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamaphobia," The Tab reported her as saying.

“This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”

Bouattia, who is studying postcolonial theory and language, at the University of Birmingham, said she would put forward a new motion that will condemn ISIS but “in no way pander to Western imperialistic intervention or the demonisation of Muslim peoples”.

Daniel Cooper, who proposed the motion, said it lost support after Bouattia's speech, in which she also claimed it was “pro-USA-intervention”.

Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

He said many members either abstained or voted against it following her intervention.

Writing on his blog, Cooper said: “The motion was partly written by a Kurdish student activist, and presented by the international students officer, Shreya Paudel.

"I have looked again and again at the contents of the motion, yet I cannot track any Islamophobia or racism."

He pointed out that point four of the motion called on the union "to condemn the IS [i.e. ISIS] and support the Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention".

An NUS spokesperson told BuzzFeed News:

At our most recent NEC meeting, a motion on this issue was presented and voted on by all members. Some committee members felt that the wording of the motion being presented would unfairly demonise all Muslims rather than solely the group of people it set out to rightfully condemn.

Of course 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 Kurdish people.

Richard James is the News Director for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

Contact Richard James at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.