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4th October 2018

Right-wing attacks SU International officer

Riddi Viswanathan has faced a torrid social media backlash after university opposition to Generation Identity’s sticker campaign
Right-wing attacks SU International officer
Stand Up to Racism Manchester @ Facebook

The University of Manchester Students’ Union (SU) International Students officer, Riddi Viswanathan, has faced social media backlash and attacks after she responded to the text on the stickers by penning a Facebook post.

Last week it was revealed that anti-immigration stickers, marked with the words ‘Join the patriotic revolution’ had been plastered across campus by far-right group Generation Identity.

The stickers included questions such as, ‘Want to protect free speech?’ and ‘Against mass-immigration?’. Heads turned at the text that read ‘Stop grooming gangs, British girl matter’, whilst images of a group of Muslim girls in burkas were plastered behind the words.

Viswanathan had initially posted to clarify to students that the SU stands for diversity, equality and inclusion and more specifically, the fact that it does not hold an anti-immigration stance.

She then went on to state that ‘’everyone is proud of their identities but more so, of preserving their identities whilst cherishing diversity and co-existing peacefully unlike (Generation Identity) intentions to establish supremacy.’’

These remarks later faced backlash when comments in response to the post began to flood in, with one user stating: “Riddi Visu the real crime is what you are doing; defaming a patriotic movement is disgusting, you are so narrow-minded to think upholding your culture is being supremacist… if you really cherish diversity, you should not deny the right of patriotic English people.”

Another said, “Riddi wants to celebrate her identity and destroy the identity of Britain #WhiteGenocide.”

Which was replied to by another user with, “It’s disheartening to see people like you allowed into my country only to want to ruin it.” And, “It’s our identity, you thick inbred b*tch.”

Speaking to The Mancunion, Viswanathan said: “Some of the responses received following my social media post about the hateful posters inside the SU are absolutely unacceptable. I will not dignify those disgraceful comments with any response.

“Instead, I would like to take this opportunity to re-iterate that the SU believes in equality, diversity, and inclusion.

“We are a safe space and do not and will not tolerate any kind of behaviour which threatens the safe and tolerant environment that we work hard to create at the SU.”

In retaliation to the stickers, Stand Up to Racism Manchester, hosted a student-led protest last week, calling out against racism and fascism.

Stand Up to Racism, who have started a ‘Kick Racism off campus’ campaign, are set to host a series of meetings around university campuses.

A spokesman for the campaign said: “Racism is felt particularly sharply in our educational institutions. Far right groups like generation identity are trying to build on university campuses, with pseudo-scientific arguments around “culture” and “identity.”

“Muslim students are targeted by prevent, BAME students and lecturers face institutional racism and EU nationals are having their right to work and student used as a bargaining chip over Brexit.”

Stand Up to Racism is an organisation that works with the University lecturers and Students’ Union to raise issues surrounding racism and discrimination as well as teaching others how to organise against hateful threats.

The meeting will be held in Academy 3 on the 11th October, with talks from MP Afzal Khan, Nita Sanghera, UCU Vice President and Shirin Hirsch, UCU member and Manchester Stand Up To Racism.

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