- NUS motion says it will work with Cage to repeal anti-terror legislation
- Union passed motion without discussion in order to save conference time
- Cage helped Mohammed Emwazi in years before he fled Britain to join ISIS
- Critics say it could lead to radicalisation on campuses across the UK
- NUS says despite agreeing to work 'alongside' Cage, they say they won't
The National Union of Students has been accused of backing 'terrorist apologists' after endorsing the controversial Islamist civil rights group who called Jihadi John a 'beautiful young man'.
The NUS has agreed to oppose the Government's counter-terrorism bill with the help of Cage, the group who supported Mohammed Emwazi in the years before he joined Islamic State.
At its 2015 conference delegates passed the motion, apparently without discussion, so they could save time - a decision that has raised fears of radicalisation at British universities.
Support: The NUS has agreed to work with Cage, a civil rights group run by Asim Qureshi, who had contact with Mohammed Emwazi before he fled to Syria to become Jihadi John
Last week NUS committed itself to 'publicly oppose the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, for the NUS President to issue a public statement condemning the PREVENT Strategy and the Government's Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, and alongside civil liberties groups including CAGE, lobby the government to repeal it immediately'.
Its agenda went on: 'The problem with e.g. ISIS/IS isn't that it's radical, but that it's radically reactionary and oppressive. Demonising "radicalisation" and "extremism" can and is being used to target anyone who dissents from the unjust, oppressive and exploitative state of society'.
Defending the decision NUS president Toni Pearce said: 'NUS National Conference passed policy that, among other things, set out its concerns about the Counter Terrorism and Security Act and calls on NUS to continue to lobby the government to repeal the Act.'
NUS President Toni Pearce said the motion was part of the union's policy to have counter-terrorism law repealed
But she added that despite the wording of the motion saying they would be working 'alongside' Cage, she would refuse to.
She said: 'The motion notes that other organisations will also be doing this but, to clarify, I have absolutely no intention of developing a working relationship - formal or otherwise - with Cage'.
Critics have called the decision to work with Cage as 'dreadful', because of its links with groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir, who support a global caliphate ruled by Sharia law.
According to The Times one student who attended a talk by the group at his university and three weeks later was arrested in Turkey trying to cross into Syria.
Rupert Sutton, director of pressure group Student Rights, told the newspaper: 'The passage of this motion is deeply worrying, as it mandates the UK's largest student union not only actively to obstruct counter-extremism policy, but to work hand in hand with the very extremists such policy seeks to challenge in doing so.
'Cage has repeatedly shown itself to be a pro-terrorist group, and this motion will ensure its speakers have greater access to our campuses than ever before.'
Richard Black tweeted: 'Reactionary terror apologists to work with progressively inclined National Union of Students. It just gets worse.'
Ted Levin wrote: 'Have the NUS really voted to work with CAGE, a group fronted by former terror suspects and that have very questionable links to terrorists?'
Another said: 'If the NUS really have voted to work with CAGE than that is dreadful. Some leading figures support stoning adulterous women. Very sad'.
Cage has called the NUS' decision 'principled' and said the union was backing its approach to working with student groups across the UK.
Cage, led by former Guantanamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg, has been branded a ‘warped’ human rights group that supports Islamic State killer Jihadi John,
Asim Qureshi, research director at the rights group CAGE, had dealings with Emwazi for years before he fled to Syria.
Qureshi became tearful as he described the world's most wanted man as 'extremely kind, extremely gentle and the most humble young person that I ever knew'.
Mr Qureshi said he was radicalised after the security services harassed him and alienated him because 'the man I knew would never hurt a single person.'
The assertion that MI5 'alienated' Emwazi caused fury, with critics accusing CAGE of being apologists for 'barbarism'.