Image Credit: Gaspard Rouffin

17 Oxford Union committee members threaten to resign in protest of Mowafy’s removal

On Thursday, 17 Oxford Union officers threatened to resign in protest of Ebrahim Osman-Mowafy’s removal from the position of President-Elect.

Rachel Haddad Moskalenko, Secretary and the highest-ranking officers of the members threatened to resign, demanded the Union to reinstate Osman-Mowafy as president and reverse the “unlawful” tribunal result. 

She also demanded the Tribunal report to be published by Monday morning, and for an appellate board to be called by Thursday at 5 pm. 

Other officers threatening to resign include Moosa Harraj, Karma Gad, Amina Bellalem, Siddhant Nagrath, Aliyyah Gbadmosi, Ammar Ansari, Ashling Sugrue, Iona Spence, Aamina Rizvi, Zarin Fariha, Raza Nazar, George Abaranoye, Porter Reyes, Zagham Farhan, Dimitris Kotsovilis, and Porter Reyes. 

If the demands fail to be met, they will resign from the Union.

This comes as Mowafy was disqualified from assuming the presidency in Michaelmas 2024 after two tribunal proceedings. Following Osman-Mowafy’s removal, the three governing bodies, Consultative Committee, Secretary’s Committee, and Standing Committee, passed a motion on Monday declaring the Union “institutionally racist.” 

A source close to Mowafy accused the Union of “nothing but racism, islamophobia, and persistent bias” in proceedings brought against him, adding that there has been “[every] effort made to remove [him]”, alleging that Union opponents had been involved in “[fabricating] claims” to remove him.

Michael-Akolade Ayodeji, Ex-President of the Union in Trinity 2022, in private business, defended Osman-Mowafy and said that the Union was in “troubling times” because members “should be able to voice their views on how they want their society run without the meddling and bad faith interference from supposedly neutral election officials”.

Ayodeji said the Returning Officer “should and still has a chance to set things right” and has the power to “facilitate a just outcome.”

Regarding recent affairs, President Louis Wilson said that he “recognises the pain and emotional distress” and stated that he is committed to working with the members to live up to the Union’s ideals of being “an open, diverse, accessible and inclusive” place.

Disabilities Officer Zagham Farhan read to the members a statement from the Access Committee. 

The Access Committee said they “unequivocally condemned” the “profoundly wrong” decision of the recent Electoral Tribunal disqualifying Osman-Mowafy from the Union presidency. They believe the tribunal ruling is illegitimate and wish to see Osman-Mowafy to be “returned to rightful office.” 

It also stated the “alleged Islamophobic remarks emerging from the Tribunal have left many members of the Society – including former and current members of Access Committee – feeling undervalued, apathetic and scared.”

“This is a Society for free speech. A Society for fair, open and honest discourse; the Tribunal has imposed a gag order on the membership directly contravening this ideal,” according to the Access Committee. 

After the business, dozens of attendees walked out of the chamber.

The tribunal that led to Osman-Mowafy’s disqualification found him not guilty on five of the six charges brought against him but ruled that Osman-Mowafy’s allegation of electoral malpractice against another member was “manifestly unreasonable.” He is suspended from the Union until the end of Michaelmas Term 2024.

Three Oxford Union ex-presidents of colour, Michael Akolade-Ayodeji, Ahmad Nawaz, and Adam Roble, signed a letter with Mowafy to the Union’s Senior Officers and Trustees alleging that recent Union procedures to remove candidates from their elected positions have been “disproportionately targeting individuals from non-traditional backgrounds.”

The Oxford Union commented: “The Oxford Union Society seeks to be an open, diverse, accessible, and inclusive place, where all members feel welcome irrespective of their background, and where they are treated with dignity and respect.

“The Society unequivocally condemns racism, islamophobia, and discrimination in all their forms and aims to ensure that every member enjoys equal opportunity to participate in the full range of the Society’s activities and contribute to its governance.

We will work tirelessly with all our members to ensure that we live up to these values.”

Image Credit: Gaspard Rouffin