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New NUS President who apologised over ‘anti-Semitic’ social media posts had Muslim Brotherhood slogan ‘death for the sake of Allah is our most exalted wish’ on her Twitter profile
- Shaima Dallali had ‘death for the sake of God is our most exalted wish’ on Twitter
- The activist had the sentence written in Arabic next to #Tunisia on her webpage
- Some experts blasted the use of the quote and warned she will discredit the NUS
- But others said it is meant to mean ‘acts of self-sacrifice for the cause of justice’
- Sources said it can be seen as ‘equivalent of being champagne socialists at uni’
The new president of the National Union of Students has come under fire for having a slogan used by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in her Twitter bio.
Shaima Dallali had ‘death for the sake of Allah is our most exalted wish’ promoted at the top of her page.
The City University activist had the sentence – which experts said is not in the Quran and is associated with the two groups – written in Arabic next to #Tunisia.
Some experts blasted the use of the quote and warned she will discredit every campaign the NUS touches.
But others claimed it is meant to mean ‘acts of self-sacrifice for the cause of justice’ and was not to be considered controversial.
Meanwhile security sources said the phrase could be seen as ‘the Muslim equivalent of being champagne socialists at university’.
It comes after Dallali apologised after a fierce backlash over ‘anti-semitic’ social media posts including an ancient Islamic battle cry relating to a massacre of Jews.
Jewish students yesterday raised concerns after historic tweets emerged referencing the killing of Jews in the 628 Battle of Khaybar.
Shaima Dallali had ‘death for the sake of Allah is our most exalted wish’ promoted at the top of her page
The City University activist had the sentence – which experts said is not in the Quran and is associated with the two groups – written in Arabic next to #Tunisia
Some experts blasted the use of the quote and warned she will discredit every campaign the NUS touches
Who and what is the Muslim Brotherhood?
The Muslim Brotherhood was first established in Britain more than 50 years ago, the Government review which concluded in summer 2014 said.
For the first years of its existence, the group was not politically active but during the late 1980s and early 1990s the group changed tactics – driven by key issues such as Iraq and Palestine.
It has dominated other groups in Britain, including the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).
By mid-2014, the Brotherhood was a range of ‘loosely associated’ groups but had no single leader in Britain.
Many of the groups have raised money for the Brotherhood and a ‘complex network’ of charities have sprung up around them.
In 2003, the UK charity Interpal was designated a terrorist organisation by the US treasury on the basis of links to Hamas.
The review found: ‘The most senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood permanently resident in the UK told the review team that he coordinated some Muslim Brotherhood international activity, but not Muslim Brotherhood activity in this country.’
MB used to be considered the largest political force in Egypt, with up to 2.5million members.
It was first founded there in 1928 but spread abroad to other Muslim countries as well as the West. it launched it political party in 2011 after the Egyptian Revolution and won almost half the seats the next year.
But Dallali was in hot water today over the quote in Arabic in the bio of an account under @tunisianrose as its handle – despite her also appearing to have one under @ShaimaDallali.
The rest of the the message was in English, saying: ‘One day, I’m going to pray in Al-Aqsa.’ The account has since been deleted.
The think tank Policy Exchange spotted Dallali’s Twitter bio and warned she was tarnishing the NUS’s reputation.
Head of its security and terrorism unit Dr Paul Stott said: ‘It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry that a student activist, opposed to Government counter-extremism policies, used an online slogan on her social media profile that is taken from the Muslim Brotherhood, and means ”death for the sake of Allah is our most exalted wish”.
‘Her leadership of the National Union of Students will discredit every campaign the NUS touches.
‘This is bad news for all students, with a Union president that seems to have supported some groups that have serious questions hanging over them.
‘Student politics seems to be lurching down a dangerous path – and all of us exposed to extremism and prejudice need to seriously question what’s going on here.’
A security source told MailOnline the phrase may have been used by a naive student jumping on a bandwagon at university.
They said: ‘With these student politics controversies, some students go through a Muslim equivalent of being a champagne socialist at university making radical pronouncements about conflicts in far away places that they will never actually take part in.
‘Within this, Islamic and jihadist figures from organisations like Hamas can be venerated like Che Guevara figures as freedom fighters.
‘In the social media era this is something that can come back to haunt them because of social media posts being under the spotlight.”
The phrase ‘death for the sake of God is our most exalted wish’ came up in the US Congress subcommittee on National Security in 2018.
Officials, which included leading politicians from across the House of Representatives, were talking about the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood globally.
Meanwhile the Israel Defense Forces also noted the use of the phrase by Hamas and said it was taken from its charter dating back to 1998.
It quoted a translation by Yale University, saying: ‘Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.’
But Oxford Professor Usaama al-Azami, who lectures in Islamic studies, explained how the phrase can mean ‘acts of self-sacrifice for the cause of justice’.
He told MailOnline: ‘I would emphasise that when Muslims or Muslim organisations speak of dying for the sake of God, this is a reference to dying to uphold justice and human dignity.
‘Not every instance of an individual Muslim or Muslim organisation’s behaviour may conform to such a declared norm.
‘Muslims are just as susceptible to failing to uphold their own standards as anyone else.
‘But a good way to understand this would be to compare it to the Ukraine crisis. The Ukrainians take great pride in their commitment to upholding justice and human dignity.’
He continued: ‘In the UK, the notion of dying ‘for King (or Queen) and country’ is recognised as an expression of valour.
‘This is the context in which such statements as the MB’s must be understood.
‘Certainly, the notion of dying for a just cause and to protect human dignity can be found within the teachings of Islam’s sacred texts of the Qur’an and Prophetic tradition.
‘Properly understood, this is the intent behind the statements of Islamic groups like the MB.’
He added: ‘MB is not comparable to groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda which consider the MB to be heretical apostates and therefore legitimate targets for their terrorism.
‘To consider such tiny terrorist groups (relative to the nearly two billion Muslims around the globe who reject their tactics) to be representative of Islam is equivalent to considering the KKK or Adolf Hitler to be representative of Western civilisation as a whole.’
Dallali was yesterday slammed by Jewish communities over a 2012 tweet, in which she wrote: ‘Khaybar Khaybar O Jews … Muhammad’s army will return #Gaza.’
She apologised for the ‘wrong’ and ‘unacceptable’ post this week, which has since been deleted, saying the tweet was made as a teenager.
Dallali, who is currently president of the City University Student Union, has also been accused of writing that she was raising money for Cage during Ramadan in 2020.
Cage’s research director called Jihadi John – a terrorist who allegedly beheaded western hostages in Syria – a beautiful young man who was ‘kind and gentle’.
The group denies it supports terrorists and says its goal is to ‘simply ensure that the pursuit of justice is carried out fairly’.
The Jewish Chronicle yesterday claimed Dallali had ‘sung the praises of a Jew-hating cleric’.
It said she labelled Waseem Yousef a ‘dirty Zionist’ after he said Hamas was launching rockets from between residents’ homes and was making a ‘graveyard’ for children in Gaza.
It also said she praised Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who was expelled from the UK, US, France and Germany, for being a ‘moral compass for the Muslim community at large’.
The NUS was also slammed by Jewish student groups earlier this month after it invited controversial rapper Lowkey to appear at its conference for students.
The rapper, real name Kareem Dennis, expressed support for former Labour MP Chris Williamson, who was suspended from the party in 2019 for anti-Semitism.
He also backed Professor David Miller, a former sociology lecturer at Bristol University, who was sacked after alleged antisemitic comments.
In an online interview with the anti-Israel activist Asa Winstanley, Lowkey claimed mainstream media had ‘weaponised the Jewish heritage of [Volodymyr] Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, to try to stave off these genuine inquiries into the nature of the groups fighting in Ukraine…’
Lowkey (pictured performing on stage) pulled out of his scheduled appearance as a guest at the annual NUS conference, with the union later releasing a lengthy statement in which it acknowledged the ‘strong response’ to his announcement
Lowkey pulled out of his scheduled appearance, with the NUS later releasing a lengthy statement in which it acknowledged the ‘strong response’.
It also apologised to students ‘hurt by some of the things they’ve read about NUS’ during the fallout.
Reacting to a tweet announcing Dallali’s election victory, the Union of Jewish Students said a number of students had reached out citing concerns.
It said: ‘Jewish students have spoken to us and raised their concerns over much of the messaging Dallali has put out on her social media in the past attacking the Jewish community, UJS, and supporting speakers with extremely challenging views.
‘We hope that she will come to the table, work with UJS and understand how to support Jewish students.
‘There have been many bridges broken between the NUS and Jewish students over the past weeks.
‘We call on Shaima and her team to join us in rebuilding those bridges to ensure that NUS becomes a space Jewish students once more feel welcomed into, rather than sidelined and excluded.’
In a tweet on Tuesday, she said: ‘My hands are outstretched to all students and staff that work in our movement, including Jewish students, and would love to arrange a meeting once I’m in office.
‘I stand ready to listen to the concerns of all students on how we can make our movement inclusive and open to all.’
And addressing the tweet on the Battle of Khayber on March 23, she added: ‘Earlier today, I was made aware of a tweet I posted 10 years ago.
During Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2012. I reference the battle of Khayber, in which Muslim and Jewish armies fought.
‘I was wrong to see the Palestine conflict as one between Muslims and Jews. This reference made as a teenager was unacceptable, and I sincerely & unreservedly apologise.’
A spokesman for the NUS yesterday said it was aware of the allegations and said Dallali has been receiving racist abuse.
A statement added: ‘We are so sorry to any students, particularly Jewish students, who have been hurt by what they’ve read in the lead up to conference.
‘We will be reviewing what more the NUS can do in the future to ensure Jewish students feel welcome in our spaces and to improve relations with Jewish students.’
In its statement confirming the withdrawal of Lowkey from its annual conference last week, the NUS said: ‘Lowkey was due to speak at our Liberation Conference on 30 March in Liverpool but has taken the decision to pull out.
‘This matter has received some social media and press coverage and is connected to some deeply complex issues that are much much bigger than NUS and our events. In the midst of this coverage, our first concerns always lie with students.
‘Since we promoted Lowkey as a speaker, there has been a strong response to some of his recent actions and associations.
‘Like with most issues discussed on social media or the press, there is a mix of facts, opinions and misinformation in circulation.
‘We are horrified to know that some students in our community, particularly Jewish students, may now be wondering if they will be fully comfortable at our upcoming events.
‘We’re very sorry to any students who are hurt by some of the things they’ve read about NUS in the last few days.’
The NUS released a new statement by Dallali today saying: ‘I am immensely proud and humbled to have been elected NUS National President. I am committed to standing up for all students in this role, when I take office in July.
‘My hands are outstretched to all students that work in our movement, including Jewish students, and I have already expressed my willingness to arrange a meeting once I take office.
‘I welcome accountability and scrutiny of myself, the spaces around us, the structures that confine us and the very education system we find ourselves in.
‘This is precisely why I chose to run for this position. I stand ready to listen to the concerns of all students on how we can make our movement inclusive and open to all.
‘Fighting injustice has been at the core of the student movement for 100 years, something that I know all too well having already received racist abuse online within hours of being elected.
‘It shouldn’t be the case that Black and Brown women simply have to accept this as a fact of taking up space in the public life.
‘That Black and Brown women have been elected to lead the student movement in the past few years should be something to celebrate, especially as the NUS celebrates its centenary.
‘The current President, Larissa Kennedy, who has boldly led the NUS during the fallout from the pandemic, is in office until July and should be given the space to finish her two-year tenure.
‘However, the pre-emptive scrutiny of Muslim women is symptomatic of the nature of Gendered Islamophobia.
‘Individuals and groups will go out of their way to seek to criminalise Muslim women in leadership, without acceptance for any space for growth and change.
‘The reality is that we can all introspect and reflect on our viewpoints. This is not just something we apply to Muslim women, which points to the importance of one of my priorities as President: decolonisation.
‘I want to be able to understand history, political structures and figures in history and today who have been idolised to the point where they are exempt from scrutiny and accountability.
‘Students in the UK and internationally face challenges in the here and now, and when I take office in July I’d like to focus on campaigning for a free, liberated, democratised and decolonised Education, with a focus on supporting students during the parallel cost of living & student mental health crises.’
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