Shaima Dallali, the president of the National Union of Students, plans to fight the organisation’s move to oust her, as supporters expressed alarm at the handling of the antisemitism allegations that led to her dismissal.
The NUS said Dallali was dismissed as president this week after an independent investigation into the allegations found “significant breaches of NUS policies” – but that it would not reveal further details because of employee confidentiality.
A statement from Carter-Ruck solicitors on behalf of Dallali said she “is considering all available legal remedies” to dispute her dismissal.
The statement said the NUS’s move followed a disciplinary panel hearing at the end of October. It came after the union received details of the investigation into the allegations against Dallali commissioned earlier this year.
“Ms Dallali rejects the findings of the disciplinary panel, as she rejected the allegations.
“She considers the [investigation] process to have constituted – and that it continues to constitute – discriminatory treatment of her as a black Muslim woman and her beliefs concerning the plight of the Palestinian people,” the statement said.
The allegations against Dallali after her election in March included a 2012 tweet that referenced a historical massacre of Jews. The statement noted that Dallali “had already apologised fully for an inappropriate tweet”, adding: “She had also made clear her position that the other tweets for which she had been criticised (and all of which pre-dated her election to her NUS role) were not antisemitic.
“Both before and during her tenure as president. Ms Dallali has repeatedly made clear her opposition to and all forms of racism, including antisemitism, while continuing to campaign to denounce the plight of the Palestinian people.”
Dallali’s cause was backed by the Muslim Council of Britain, which said the NUS’s decision was “deeply troubling”.
“Those calling for her summary dismissal, in concert with those who have enacted this decision, have little to say about the deluge of Islamophobic abuse directed at Shaima.
“Many Muslim students fear the Islamophobia they face on campus. This decision will only heighten those fears and raise questions about their place within the NUS. They are owed an explanation,” the MCB said.
The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) said the NUS “is no longer an organisation that take Muslims or Islamophobia seriously”.
“Consequently, FOSIS is calling on all Islamic societies, friends and those who oppose Islamophobia to organise and lead disaffiliation campaigns against the NUS on their campuses,” the group said.
Dallali, a former student union president at City, University of London, was elected president of the NUS for a two-year term starting in July. But in August she was suspended from the role as a result of the allegations and complaints by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).
The UJS said it “respects the decision of the NUS to dismiss their president”, adding: “Antisemitism in the student movement goes beyond the actions of any one individual and this case is a symptom of a wider problem.”