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Support Shahd Abusalama’s anti-racist fightback!

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My name is Shahd Abusalama and I’m a third-generation Palestinian refugee activist, artist, and writer. I am suing Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), my former employer, for discrimination and for publicly attacking me in the Zionist press.

My background:

I was born in Jabalia Refugee Camp, occupied Gaza, after my grandparents’ expulsion from their villages Beit Jerja and Isdud during the 1948 Nakba that condemned us to a life of oppression under Israeli occupation. After finishing my undergraduate degree, and surviving multiple Israeli military attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip, I left in 2013 to further my higher education in Media Studies. I obtained an MA at SOAS (London) before taking up a Ph.D. scholarship at SHU, where I completed my dissertation between 2018 and 2021, and also worked as a teaching assistant.

I continued to work amplifying the Palestinian aspirations for freedom, justice, equality, and return from abroad, including after my appointment as a lecturer in January 2022. I was repeatedly investigated, and exonerated, by SHU under the controversial IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and was adopted by SHU in the face of government threats to withdraw funding. I attended my graduation ceremony on 17 November 2022, the week after the Jewish Chronicle attacked me in an article citing derogatory assertions about me by SHU, in breach of confidentiality.

Like so many Palestinians in the UK, I am subjected to tactics of vilification and censorship to try and silence opposition to Israel’s systematic oppression of Palestinians. We are criminalised and hounded for celebrating our existence, speaking of our experiences and challenging vilifications of our history and image.

My story with Sheffield Hallam University:


Since 24 December 2021, when I was appointed as an associate lecturer on Postcolonial Media Culture, I have been targeted with intensified anti-Palestinian smears, the culmination of a relentless campaign of harassment by pro-Israel groups, outlets, and social media trolls, which started since my enrolment at SHU.

Unfortunately, far from supporting me, SHU has joined in targeting me. I had barely delivered the introductory lecture when my department informed me on 20 January 2022 that my teaching was to be suspended “until further notice”, pending an investigation into external complaints by those who used the IHRA definition to protest my employment. SHU left me in the dark as to the nature of the complaints, except what it leaked to the press. I fought back, with my campaign #InSupportOfShahd attracting wide local and global solidarity and outrage at SHU’s mistreatment of its own employee. Two weeks later, supported by my University and College Union branch and the European Legal Support Centre (ELSC ), I defeated those smears, overcoming two investigations and successfully returning to teaching.

Three months later, however, my employer launched a third investigation, insisting on confidentiality. I was later cleared, but SHU had shown that I was not welcome, and I agreed to leave, hoping to join an anti-racist organisation on the right side of history.

SHU then disclosed misleading information to the pro-Israel ‘Jewish Chronicle’, including details of the third investigation, conducted by barrister Akua Reindorf. Although SHU had already exonerated me as acting within my rights to free academic expression, their communications with the JC left the investigation outcome unknown. This instigated a further round of brutal smears in the media, intensifying the anti-Palestinian racism to which I am routinely subject.

My Lawsuit:

I shall now pursue legal action to hold SHU accountable for violating my employment rights, and ensure that the truth gets into the public domain and that legitimate anti-racist speech is protected on UK campuses.

As a Palestinian woman, I want to be able to articulate my story and political views without being harassed and subject to discrimination. But this is not just my lawsuit.

With this legal fight, we will make sure that no other individual faces persecution for their legitimate beliefs. We should all be able to engage in criticism of the apartheid state of Israel without risks of harassment or interference from our employers. This case will challenge systemic issues, including the oppressive IHRA definition, the rights of workers to fair treatment and organise in support of Palestine, while supporting academic freedom.

If you want to support and enable anti-racist struggle by workers, and fight back against interference with academic freedom, support my legal battle. Please contribute and share this page now!

£20K should cover my legal fees. All money that is not used for the legal action will be donated to ELSC and other Palestinian rights organisations.

I am incredibly grateful for your support. Any donation, large a small, will make a difference. We are stronger together!

FREE PALESTINE!
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  • Sarina Gujral
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  • Abdul Basit Abdul Basit
    • £10 
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  • Carter McKenzie
    • £50 
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  • Patrick Blocher
    • £20 
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  • Fouad Jaffar
    • £150 
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Organizer

Shahd Abusalama
Organizer
England

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