Bahar Mustafa, the Goldsmiths Student Union Welfare and Diversity Officer who is at the center of a racism and sexism row, used images of women armed with weapons for her election campaign for the post.
Now it has emerged that Mustafa’s Facebook campaign page features an image in which six Iranian women practice shooting in the outskirts of Teheran.
The photograph was taken in 1986 in post-revolutionary Iran by Jean Gaumy.
Another post on the Facebook campaign page features the character Lana Kane, from animated TV show Archer, pointing a gun.
A third image has the protagonist of TV show Xena: Warrior Princess brandishing a sword. The meme-style text says: “Vote Bahar or I’ll kick your butt.”
Mustafa has not responded to Eastlondonlines’ attempts to contact her.
Goldsmiths Student Union declined to comment on the Facebook images and the Mustafa controversy.
Over 16,000 people had signed an online petition on Change.org by 21 May calling for the removal of Mustafa from her position. The petition reached its target of 16,000 signatures on Wednesday night and is now seeking an extra 10,000 supports.
Meanwhile, Goldsmiths students have started another petition demanding the Students Union hold a vote of no confidence on Mustafa, which could have her effectively removed from her job.
If 3% of Goldsmiths students support the petition by May 26, a referendum of the whole student body will be held to decide her future. The referendum would require a turnout of 3% of students and 2/3 of them voting for Mustafa’s dismissal.
The petition says Mustafa has made students feel “intimidated, unsupported, and unrepresented”.
It continues: “The current Welfare and Diversity Officer has used hate speech based on race and gender. For example the consistent use of hash-tags such as #killallwhitemen and #misandry, and publically calling someone ‘white trash’ under the official GSU Welfare and Diversity Officer twitter account.”
The Twitter account has since been deleted.
Mustafa admits to using the hasthags in her personal account and says they are “in-jokes”. She said in a statement: “It’s a way of reclaiming the power from the trauma many of us experience as queers, women, people of colour, who are on the receiving end of racism, misogyny and homophobia daily. These are not political stances.”
On using the #whitetrash tag in her official Student Union account, she says: “I can accept that it was not professional and I do apologise for this.”
Mustafa says she has been the victim of death and rape threats, racial and gendered abuse.
There has also been a counter petition in support of Mustafa which had gathered around 2,000 supporters by Thursday.
Supporters say the attacks are based on “a series of wilful distortions and omissions.”
On the Mustafa asking white and male people to not attend an event, one says: “This particular meeting was an opportunity for BME women and Non-binary people, who despite their courageous efforts in student and staff organising at Goldsmiths, often find themselves overlooked, to discuss their experiences and organise together in order to engage more effectively with the wider student movement.
“Groups who face particular oppressions and difficulties meeting separately to discuss how best to support one another is not new or unusual.”
“The consistent and targeted harassment of BME women elected officers in our SU is cynical and cowardly.”
But a Twitter campaign supporting Mustafa was overtaken by critics and became a trending topic across the United Kingdom on Wednesday afternoon.
Because we need to carry on challenging white men’s sense of entitlement #SupportBaharMustafa
— global women (@globalwomenfm) May 21, 2015
#SupportBaharMustafa because minorities SHOULD organise together instead of relying on white “allies” who have a history of being absent
— Glen Coco (@MrPooni) May 20, 2015
— Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) May 20, 2015
The controversy began last month when Mustafa asked white people and men to not attend a Student Union event on diversity.
At the Student Assembly on May 5, Mustafa, surrounded by her supporters, gave a seven-minute address in which she denied that the event was either an “anti-racism rally” or “equality protest”, as it had been characterised in some sections of the media.
Mustafa flatly denied that it was possible for her comments to have been racist or sexist: “I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist towards white men, because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender.
“Therefore, women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.”
Her full statement can be seen in the video below:
She described the controversy over her Facebook post as “only one in a series of attacks upon minority women on campus.”
Goldsmiths said in a statement on Thursday: “To clarify, Bahar Mustafa is not an employee of the university and is not a student. The Students’ Union is independent of Goldsmiths, University of London. It is run by student officials elected by union members.
“Both the University and the Students’ Union are committed to fighting all forms of oppression, including racism, sexism and any other form of bigotry. Goldsmiths has a global reputation for our research in disability, race, faith and feminist studies.
“We are in active discussions with Goldsmiths Students’ Union over this important matter. We are treating all concerns with sensitivity and with the utmost urgency.”
Mustafa was re-elected as Goldsmiths’ Student Union Welfare and Diversity Officer in early March. She was the only candidate and received 639 votes. She is a former MA Gender and Media Studies student at the university.
Additional reporting by David Blood and Anna Mellin.