Over 15,000 people have signed an online petition on Change.org calling for the removal of Goldsmiths’ Student Union Welfare and Diversity Officer, Bahar Mustafa, from her position. The petition reached its target of 15,000 signatures on Wednesday night and is now seeking an extra 10,000 supports.
Mustafa, 27, has admitted in an online statement that she posted a series of inflammatory tweets that included the hashtag #killallwhiteman.
Meanwhile, Goldsmiths students are requested to vote in another official petition that could lead to Mustafa effectively being removed from her job.
The Goldsmiths student petition says: “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 publicly calling someone ‘white trash’ under the official GSU Welfare and Diversity Officer twitter account.”
The Twitter account has since been deleted.
Mustafa doesn’t deny using the hasthags in her personal account and says they are “in-jokes”. She says her 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 because of the “media storm” that followed her comments.
She is inviting students to meet with her on Friday for a “mediated discussion.”
A few weeks ago Mustafa already caused controversy when she asked white men to not attend a Student Union event. “If you’re a man and/or white please don’t come,” she said. The page for the event was also been deleted.
On 5 May at the Goldsmiths Student Assembly, Mustafa, surrounded by her supporters, gave a seven-minute address in which she 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.”
Mustafa described the controversy over her Facebook post as “only one in a series of attacks upon minority women on campus.”
Eastlondonline’s video of Mustafa’s speech has been seen over 220,000 times in less than two weeks.
Regarding a previous event, Mustafa tweeted on February 24:
— Bahar Mustafa (@GSU_Welfare) February 24, 2015
An online petition in support of Mustafa had around 1,500 supporters by 20 May.
Goldsmiths administration had declined to comment on the original incident, saying that: “We have no involvement in [the Union’s] decision-making or the programme of events that they offer.” They confirmed, however, that they had written to the SU to “express concern”.
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 studied her MA Gender and Media Studies at the same university.
Additional reporting by David Blood and Anna Mellin.