A number of activists within the student movement have signed an open letter denouncing the National Union of Students (NUS) President Megan Dunn for issuing a statement pledging to cut NUS ties with CAGE.
Following Dunn’s claim that “working with Cage would not be compatible with the NUS’s policies on ‘anti-racism, anti-fascism and how we define anti-Semitism’”, her opponents have expressed their “grave concerns”.
They have also attacked the fact that the NUS has withdrawn support for the ‘Students not Suspects’ tour which was due to feature CAGE Outreach Director Moazzam Begg.
This decision is described by the signatories as one which “massively undermines what has been NUS’s key work around the campaign to oppose PREVENT”.
It is also claimed that “cutting ties with CAGE denies NUS a wealth of experience and information in tackling PREVENT”.
These statements demonstrate the extent to which extremists have been able to influence student opposition to Prevent, something Student Rights’ research recently highlighted.
That Dunn’s criticisms of CAGE are described as “reiterating baseless, Islamophobic smears” also show a willingness to label opponents as racist, and to downplay the evidence against CAGE.
The group has regularly supported convicted terrorists, including Munir Farooqi, convicted of soliciting to murder; Djamel Beghal, convicted over a plot to bomb US targets in Paris in 2001; and Nizar Trabelsi, jailed for planning an attack in Belgium.
Despite this evidence, the letter tries to mainstream CAGE’s extremist views and history – whitewashing them as a “politically active Muslim organisation” which is under attack.
While it is encouraging to see the NUS leadership attempt to cut extremists out of the debate, this furious denunciation shows that many within the student movement remain part of the problem.
Challenging extremism on our campuses is a vital task, and to see this many student union officials and NUS officers (including four Vice Presidents) endorse CAGE highlights how far we still have to go.