Nadhim Zahawi 'deeply concerned' over anti-Semitism allegations surrounding NUS

21 April 2022, 08:42 | Updated: 21 April 2022, 09:20

The Education Secretary has condemned the National Union of Students
The Education Secretary has condemned the National Union of Students . Picture: LBC

By Megan Hinton

The Education Secretary has voiced concern over anti-Semitism allegations surrounding the National Union of Students (NUS), saying he fears the problem could be "systemic."

Nadhim Zahawi told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that he feared a "pattern" was emerging and that the NUS needs to do more to rebuild the trust of Jewish students.

It comes as NUS’s incoming president, Shaima Dallali, was forced to apologise for a social media post that invoked a historic massacre on Jews in the Middle East.

The Education Secretary revealed he has tasked Minister Michelle Donelan to look into the Government's involvement with the union, sating "all options are on the table with this one".

Speaking this morning, Mr Zahawi said: "It is truly abhorrent and I think the NUS needs to do a lot of work to rebuild the trust of Jewish students.

"And of course I worry that there is a pattern here and this could be systemic in the NUS and I have asked my Minister Michelle Donelan to look at our relationship with the NUS, with their charitable status and nothing is of the table.

"All options are on the table with this one, I am deeply deeply concerned."

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Education Sec: I am deeply deeply concerned about the NUS

In response to the allegation, the NUS previously said: "We unequivocally support and fight for Jewish students’ right to live and study free from the threat of antisemitism.

"We have a proud and longstanding relationship with the Union of Jewish Students who we welcome warmly within the NUS community; we see UJS as an important voice in improving our work to make education, and the student movement, safer for Jewish students.

"The past few weeks will have given Jewish students cause for concern about NUS and you may be wondering if this is a safe space for you at all.

"For that we are truly sorry and want to reaffirm that this is and will continue to be a safe space for you. But our actions must speak louder than our words so we will be reviewing what has happened over the past few weeks and making changes in the future.

"And the next time we have an event or activity where we’re asking you to join us, we’ll communicate these changes proactively so you have extra assurances that you will be welcome and safe."

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Nick also grilled Mr Zahawi about a recording, obtained by LBC that showed students at a workshop held at last month’s NUS annual conference being told not to report anyone they were concerned about to Prevent.

The MP said: "It is very serious. Its high is highly dangerous to undermine the work of the prevent programme in this way. I worry deeply about the direction of the NUS."

In the recording passed to LBC, a student asked what they should do if they have “genuine” concerns that someone they know is watching extremist content.

It is at that point they are told by the person running the workshop at the NUS conference in Liverpool that they should ensure the person they report it to, does not pass the information on to Prevent.

"You report it to the right person in the right way, and have that assurance that you've to be confident they're not going to go to Prevent," they are told.

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Students are also told to "disengage" with Prevent at the workshop held by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS).

n an interview with LBC, Sir Mark Rowley former head of counter-terrorism at the Met, was highly critical of the comments.

He told LBC's Breakfast with Nick Ferrari: "That piece you played in terms of that workshop at the National Union of Students’, I think that is completely irresponsible. It’s one thing to disagree with Government policy about Prevent, that’s fine, that’s democracy.

"But encouraging people who have real concerns that somebody who is being drawn towards extremism, encouraging them not to go to the authorities is highly dangerous and highly irresponsible."

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