Author Archives: bemaonline

Statement on Emmerson Collier petition and the University of Birmingham’s response


We are gravely disappointed with the response of the University of Birmingham and the Guild of Students to our petition against student Emmerson Collier.

Dismissing the petition as ‘harassment’, and prioritising the comfort of this student over the safety of the countless on campus to whom his far-right ideology presents a direct threat only underscores everything that we have grown to understand about this University, and its complete impotence in dealing with racism and the concerns of BME people.

In case it wasn’t made abundantly clear, our opposition to Collier is not because he holds a political opinion we merely ‘disagree with’: having far-right activists’ on campus is a direct threat to BME people, and is as corrosive as their presence anywhere in society.

Collier’s intention with his political activity have been made clear by his own pen – ‘winning hearts and minds’ and ‘spreading the word on the streets’ .

As his experience as Director of Communications of the group National Culturists – a group whose founder, speaking alongside BNP leader Nick Griffin at the Alliance of European National Movements conference in 2012 was open about his intentions to use university funds to advance their cause – would have informed him, it is not difficult to imagine, what this kind of agenda could translate to at our university.

Normalising far-right politics and ideologies, presenting an acceptable outward image and allowing them to flourish in public, providing them leverage in wider society, are how fascism and right wing extremism have always gained its foothold; in society, in electoral politics, and just as easily on our campuses.

It is for this very reason that No Platform policies against fascists were introduced to deny these movements oxygen – but is seems the Guild is now content only to parade policy, whilst encouraging students to ‘take a stand’ against those of us looking to act upon it.

We wonder how long we are expected to remain quiet and content with Collier’s presence.

We are somewhat unsure that the alumni of the National Front, Union Movement, and British Movement that Collier shares company so readily with would be as content with ours.
Neither are we too confident that the ‘true British resistance’ promised by his parent organisation Britain First would be too inclusive of BME people.

In short, our expectations from the University and Guild were minimal, but with their pathetic response they have managed to lower the bar even further.

Our requests to meet with the University to discuss long-standing concerns over discrimination have been summarily ignored, and we find ourselves condemned for exercising what little power we as BME students have at this University to raise our concerns.

We find it strangely ironic how tolerant the University of Birmingham seems to be of intolerance.

But for a University that has been so quick to clampdown on its own members for matters of actual political disagreement, we would appreciate not being lectured about plurality and freedom of speech by them.

So far this only reiterates what we already knew – Black and Brown people lie at the bottom in the University of Birmingham.
And we reaffirm our commitment to our campaign unabated.



As you all may or may not know, NUS Conference is next week.

In order to ensure my intentions are transparent, I will write about who I am voting for in the elections at NUS. I will focus on my voting intentions for elections as opposed to motions. The reason for this is because as a delegate for the University of Birmingham, I am expected to vote in line with Guild policy and so my voting intentions for motions need not explicitly be stated.


However, if anyone has any questions concerning motions, please feel free to send comment or send me an email on

ELECTIONS- Who I intend to vote for President and Vice President(s) (VPs)

The President and the Vice Presidents are elected at NUS National conference for a 12 month term. They will be representing all students across the UK, in further and higher education. However, as I am a Higher education delegate, I can’t vote for VP Further education.

PRESIDENT-RON (Re-open nominations)

VP Higher Education- Hattie Craig

I recognize Hattie’s commitment to free education and calls for a more effective movement. This is important because the only way free education will come about it by direct action which Hattie is committed to.

NUS VP Society & Citizens- Piers Telemacque

Put simply, Pier did a great job during the last academic year and he is bound to do so again if he is given the chance. He has experience and has led numerous campaigns around issues such as fighting for funding where it is needed, ie to maintain youth services, fighting against cuts in education. Most impressing however, is the fact that he is also committed to issues which most people don’t often give enough attention to such as prisoner education. Finally, it goes without saying that the fight against police brutality, racism and fascism continue to disproportionately affect BME communities thus we need individuals like Piers who are prepared to fight and struggle to ensure safety in our communities.

NUS VP Union Developmemt- Abdi Suleiman

Abdi’s commitment to the student movement cannot be commended enough. It is clear that he hopes to transform the way in which the student movement is as at current, not to say that it is lacking in anyway, but there is a need to engages with external organisations and also increase NUS involvement in liberation issues by way of financial backing. Finally, his dedication to free, fair and affordable education means that he will organise and priorities around the need for free education.

NUS VP Welfare- Shelly Asquith

Having read her manifesto, it is clear that Shelly Asquith understands the need to really focus on the specific needs, and lack thereof, students require during their time at University. For example, she is commitment to organizing around free education for Higher education and international students coupled with the emphasis on affordable housing. Finally, in light of the continuous fascist activity that plagued University of Birmingham this year, we need student representatives on a national level that are ready to challenge anti fascism, anti Semiticism, islamophobia and other forms of discrimination, Shelly addresses these areas in her manifesto and also mentions how she aims to organise to ensure the safety of students.


When voting for students for the NUS Block of 15 elections, I will judge it mainly on how well they aim to represent students which will be clear from their action points and ideas and finally, what specific policies they advocate.

Judging by individual manifesto points, these are some of the candidates I may vote for, for Block of 15. However, these are subject to change based on their speeches on the day.

Areeb- dedicated to fighting to put the issue of the BME attainment gap on the national agenda

Anna Lee

Dan Slavin- places emphasis on the need for more accountability to students

Jordan Kenny

Sherry Iqbal (FE)

Harris Ahmed (FE)

Sahaya James

Dwayne (FE)


Hannah Webb

BEMA AGM (Annual General Meeting) – Thursday, 5pm

BEMA AGM (Annual General Meeting) – Thursday, 5pm, Harvey Milk room

This year BEMA has held events across Black History Month and Islamophobia Awareness Week, organised demos around the Black Lives Matter campaign, the mass killings in Nigeria and racist graffiti on campus, and has been involved in hosting the Black Lives Matter UK Solidarity tour and the Birmingham Police Monitoring Project.
If you would like to get involved with BEMA next year and continue these campaigns and our anti-racist work, come join us at our AGM (Annual General Meeting) on Thursday.

The AGM will be a chance to run for BEMA committee 2015-16, ask this year’s committee questions on their year and make changes to the BEMA constitution (which can be seen here)

Please note that you must be signed up as a member of BEMA via the Guild website – registration is free and can be done here

The current committee positions available are:

Vice Chair/Secretary
Local Liason Advisor
Cultural Outreach Advisor
Internal Affairs Advisor
Campaigns Advisor
Representation Advisor
Marketing & Publicity Advisor

Further positions can be created at the AGM.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to run for committee but cannot attend the AGM please email us at


Voting intention for Guild Council 29/1/2015


Here’s how we will be voting on behalf of BEMA at Guild Council today.

There will be 2 parts to Council – the regular side with motions and officer accountability, and amendments for a new proposed democratic model for the Guild.

Both are covered below, any questions/issues with our intentions holla at

or Council is open to all otherwise, 6pm in Guild Council Chambers.



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BEMA statement on ‘Islam must die’ and swastika graffiti on campus

On Saturday the 17th January it came to our attention that the statement ‘Islam must die’ and a swastika had been spray painted outside the Frankland psychology building; pictures and coverage can be found in various online articles such as those in Redbrick and local newspaper Slaney Street.

Clearly not a use of graffiti only for the purpose of political expression, this was one of hatred, discrimination and incitement to harm. The act was targeted towards faith-based minorities including groups made up mainly of students of colour.

The painting of ‘Islam must die’ is blatant Islamophobia.
However inelegant the statement and however incompetent the perpetrator, this is a statement designed to intimidate Muslims and Muslim students and should be taken very seriously.
This comes amidst a climate of Islamophobia flourishing across Europe and the UK, which in Birmingham and the Midlands itself has recently seen bombings outside mosques, attacks on shops in predominantly Muslim and BME areas, Islamophobic murders and mass mobilisations of far-right neo-Nazis – including in nearby Coventry on the day of the incident.
It is also concurrent with, and undoubtedly product of, an atmosphere of persecution and growing distrust of Muslim communities. These communities are facing the brunt of institutional discrimination and repressive counter-terrorism laws, whilst the media’s comparative muteness on Islamophobia has silenced Muslim voices, masked the scale of the issue at hand, and allowed racist groups, political parties and bigoted individuals to express their hatred unchallenged.

Swastikas, the symbol of the Nazi party and contemporary neo-Nazis, were sprayed on the wall as well. Invoking this symbolism is a form of intimidation towards Jewish students, thus creating an environment of fear in the form of anti-Semitism. Furthermore, the Swastika is related to the persecution of other minorities who call Birmingham home.
Such intimidation in what should be an inclusive, progressive and diverse city is unacceptable.

Racism, Islamophobia and discrimination are, and continue to be, major problems at the University of Birmingham. As one of the most respected universities in the country, the University should recognise that, although removing the graffiti is important, it does not address the deeper issue at hand.
If it was under any pretense before, we hope that this very visible example serves to remind the University and its management that these are issues that cannot go on ignored, and which they have a responsibility to counter.
Universities across the country are simply not doing enough for BME, faith-based, and in this case Muslim students alongside other marginalised minoritised groups; as institutions of privilege they are more often than not complicit in the wider oppression of these groups by quietly hushing up the issues.
We need anti-hatred education and active anti-fascism initiatives, but also for our university to stand alongside us in tackling these issues at a structural and institutional level and de-normalise the oppression afflicting our members.

BEMA offer our support to, and welcome contact from, any of our members affected by the propagation of such hate.
We condemn this Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and racialised attack on students on this campus.
We welcome the Guild’s condemnation of the incident and upon them and the University to work with us to help actively organise against racism and the far right within our campus and our community.

In solidarity,

Voting intention for Guild Council 4/12/2014


Hi everyone,
sorry for the lateness with this – here’s how we intend to vote at today’s Guild Council as representatives of BEMA.

If you have any input or views on the motions please contact us at

Guild Council is open to all members of the Guild, and takes place from 6-10:45pm in the Guild Council Chambers (1st floor of the Guild).

It’ll also be streamed at


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UoB Islamophobia Awareness Week begins today

This week is UoB Islamophobia Awareness Week, in collaboration between BEMA, University of Birmingham Islamic society and University of Birmingham Ahlul Bayt society.
Come to the events being held this week, look out for the ‘What Islamophobes Say’ social media campaign and join in the discussion using #UoBIAW14

UoB Islamophobia Awareness Week

Mon 24 Nov – 6pm – Nuffield G17

‘Discussing Islamophobia’
Student-led seminar with Muslim students at UoB, Abdel Rahman Mussa and Chris Allen (Professor).

Tue 25 Nov – 7pm – Arts LR7
Documentary screening ‘Zone of Nonbeing: Guantanamo’

Documentary on Guantanamo Bay, Drone warfare and the institutionalisation of Islamophobic racism within the USA.
Followed by Q&A + discussion with Turab Shah (Writer/Director) and Arzu Merali (Producer)

Wed 26 Nov – 5pm – Arts LR5
‘Challenging Islamophobia’
workshops, including deconstructing Islamophobia and challenging Islamophobic stop & search
led by
Taher Gulamhussein (STOPwatch), Alaa Elaydi (NUS) and Hilary Aked.

Thu 27 Nov – 6pm – Arts LR2
The ‘Good-Muslim’/’Bad-Muslim’ Myth
panel discussion
featuring Salman Sayyid (Author of ‘Thinking Through Islamophobia’),
Malia Bouattia (NUS Black Students’ Officer),
Oliur Rahman (Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets),
Afroze Zaidi-Jivraj (Researcher in Islamophobia)

All events are free and open to all.


UoB Islamophobia Awareness

Voting intention for Guild Council 13/11/2014


Hi all,
here’s how we intend to vote at the first Guild Council of the year, as representatives of BEMA.

On the student-run side of things, Guild Council is the highest democratic body of the Guild and is used to hold Guild Officers to account and decide the policy and campaigning direction of the Guild, through motions voted on by elected Councillors.

If you have any input or views on the motions we’d be happy to take them into consideration – also if you have views that you want shared at Council we can do that on your behalf.
Just contact us at

Guild Council is open to all members of the Guild, and takes place from 6-10:45pm on Thursday the 14th of November in the Guild Council Chambers (1st floor of the Guild).


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Applications for BEMA Reps and Black History Month 2014 feedback

*BEMA Reps applications & Black History Month 2014 feedback*
Deadline: Wednesday 12th November, midnight

Deadline extended to Friday 14th November, midnight
Applications are open to students in all years who self-define as BME.

BEMA rep positions provide a chance for BEMA members to get more actively involved with the Association, working alongside the committee to help develop, organise and promote events and campaigns that BEMA holds, and you can work on whatever aspect of our operations you feel most comfortable with.
Applications should take no more than 10-15 minutes.

Also please provide feedback for our Black History Month if you attended, at the link (even if you don’t want to apply to be a Rep), it’ll help us hold events/address topics in the future that matter to our members most.


Congo week begins today


This year BEMA are participating in the seventh annual Congo Week, an initiative held every third week of October where people across the globe gather to commemorate the millions of lives lost in the conflict in the Congo while celebrating the country’s enormous human and natural potential.

The Lost Voices – Congo week panel

Today – 6pm – Arts Lecture room 7

Kick-starting Congo Week, we will be hosting an event in collaboration with the University of Birmingham African Development Forum setting the scene on the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We will first screen the documentary ‘Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth’ before hearing from two Congolese activists both based within the UK – Benoit Mussanzi wa Mussangu, Chairman for Centre Resolution Conflicts (CRC) and Francine Mukwaya, a representative of Friends of the Congo.

They will both be presenting some of the critical aspects of the conflict as well as highlighting developments and progress over the years. There will be a chance to ask some questions and get involved in the discussion on what we can do to help the campaign.

Kingdom of the Congo

Room change: Thursday – 6:30pm – Nuffield G17

With JJ Bola.

Join us on for an educative and informative workshop on the Congo, past and present. There will be a presentation workshop on the conflict, in regards to the minerals and how it links with the technological industries and Western imperialist interests.
To celebrate the history and culture, there will be another workshop looking at Congo’s ancient kingdoms, and the lifestyle and culture.
There will also be spoken word poetry!

West Midlands Pan African Students’ Union meeting

Friday – 6pm – Arts Lecture room 7

The West Midlands Pan African Students Union meeting has been postponed until a later date.
Check back for details soon.

The Pan-African Students Union is an organisation made up of students of African descent who seek to educate, mobilise and organise students in order to get engaged in progressive action towards the liberation of African people, at home and abroad.

This is a chance for students in the West Midlands to get involved with the regional branch of PASU and develop new campaigns and directions for it to take this year.
Events held by the West Midlands in the past include a book launch of ‘Pan Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939’ with author Hakim Adi, and Congo: From Lumumba to Neo-colonialism.

Open to all self-identifying students of African heritage.



Congo week international