The National Union of Students (NUS) has organised a national tour of Universities to campaign against and “resist” the Government’s counter-terror and counter-radicalisation strategy, Prevent.
The events, called “Students not Suspects,” are “for anyone interested in resisting the impact of the Prevent duty” and “organising non-compliance” – as well as fighting the “curbing of our right to protest, police violence and deaths in custody.”
The events will be held in London, Birmigham, Swansea, Manchester, and Glasgow. They will feature speeches and workshops “to equip students and activists with the knowledge and networks to take these campaigns on locally.”
— NUS Black Students (@nusBSC) September 1, 2015
The Prevent strategy, formally know as Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, states that some institutions, including universities, must “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.”
In April, the NUS voted to “reaffirm” their opposition to Prevent and to work with Salafi Islamist “civil rights” group Cage to depose it. They have also voted to not give “fascists a platform in the student movement” and to “no-platform” UKIP.
The Prime Minister blasted the student group in June for siding with Islamists: “I want to say something to the National Union of Students,” he said: “When you choose to ally yourselves with an organisation like CAGE, which called Jihadi John a ‘beautiful young man’ and told people to ‘support the jihad’ in Iraq and Afghanistan it really does, in my opinion, shame your organization.”
The NUS now claims not to work with CAGE, but remains unrepentant about their intention to defend Islamists and work against counter terrorism. In regards to the new campaign, NUS Black Students Officer Malia Bouattia, told The Mancunion:
“In bringing their battle ‘for hearts and minds’ – and against dissent – to spaces of education with the new Act, the government is inviting to our campuses the same brutality that plagues Black and Muslim people at the hands of the police and state in wider society.
“After decades of racist laws and abuse, it is time students alongside their communities finally fought back.”
“Whether it’s campaigning for education or environmentalism, when students choose to take action we are often met with the long arm of the law. Spied on, beaten, arrested. We need all out defiance towards the lack of justice that is limiting free speech and impacting students’ lives.”
The irony of the NUS claiming to champion free speech, as an organisation that routinely suppresses speech, has not surpassed everyone. Nation Secular Society (NSS) spokesman Stephen Evans said:
“To actively work against people who are trying to counter radicalisation and extremism is ill-informed and reckless.
“It is one thing to have concerns about the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, it is quite another to work with a group that has a troubling history of supporting Islamism.
“The NUS’s defence of free speech seems to extend to allowing extremist speakers on campus, but they have no objection to enforcing ‘safe space’ and ‘no-platform’ policies which curb free speech on university campuses.
“The National Union of Students appears to be giving Islamism a free pass.”