Why are the NUS linked to CAGE?

Following the Daily Mail’s recent exposure of CAGE speakers on campus, who are associated with members of the National Union of Student’s National Executive Committee. There needs too be an attempt to challenge and expose the regressive views of CAGE and why individuals in the NUS’ association with them.

CAGE’s notoriety came about when the Mozzam Begg, the organisations director described Mohammadai Enwarzi, infamously known Jihadi John, as ‘a beautiful man’. A statement which was widely criticised by an Amnesty International and the Government. The group has been in the news recently because they are working with members of the NUS to encourage students to not co-operate with part of the Governments Counter Terrorism legislation called Prevent. CAGE has made a number of questionable comments previously and at anti-Prevent events. At a ‘Preventing Prevent’ event, Mr Begg, who spoke at the majority of these events, compared Governments in the West to rapists and then compared Muslims in the UK to Jews before the rise of the Nazis. Even though he stated the Britain was nowhere near the point of Jews in the UK. It is still worrying that Mr Begg chooses to compare such events and it shows how out of touch CAGE is on the issue. However, it is not just Begg that is stating values that should be considered regressive, as it has other representatives who have views that are even more worrying than Begg. Asim Qureshi, who is involved in CAGE, was questioned in an interview about Female Genital Mutilation and refused to condemn it. At another event, Mr Qureshi, who was at protest with the Islamist group Hizb Ut Tahrir, encouraged Muslim’s to support Jihad. Furthermore, leading officials in CAGE have worked with Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, who were sentenced for more than 12 years each for travelling for travelling to Syria to join the Al Qaeda-linked group Al Nusra.

Although Megan Dunn, the President of the NUS has ruled out working the NUS. There are still members of the National Union of Students’ NEC who have chosen to associate themselves at these anti-Prevent events with CAGE. Shelly Asquith, the NUS’ Vice President for Welfare has shared a platform with Begg and at one event, when she was talking about Prevent that ‘there are some laws that should be broken’. Another NEC member, Malia Bouattia, the NUS’ Black Students officer said at another event that the Prevent strategy state sponsored Islamophobia and racism’. It is amazing to think that these individuals were elected and they consider themselves to represent all students. I want to see individuals elected to the NUS that will not encourage students to violate the law. What is even more worrying, is that at these events that the NUS officals are at, there is no debate between speakers of differing opinion. Furthermore, the audiences at these events, according to the Daily Mail’s investigation, do not appear to be challenging the views of the speakers when they come along. This is concerning because CAGE need to be debated and exposed on their views, when they come and give talks at Universities.

There are problems with Prevent, but CAGE is not the answer to addressing these problems and individuals who are in the NUS NEC should not be choosing to associate themselves with such an organisation. Students need to start to challenge and expose the views of any CAGE Speaker that comes to speak at their University campus if there is no opposition to the group because their views need challenging. There also needs to be a further push from students to stand for the position of NUS delegate at their University and stand for a National Executive position to make sure the NUS is a voice for all students, not just the regressive left.