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The war with Afghanistan has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths overseas and is now threatening serious social division at home, John Rees of Stop the War warned today.

EDL anti_muslim protestThe desperate attempts of the UK government to justify military occupation have led to increasingly vitriolic attacks on Muslims - which have now been taken up by the English Defence League.

Rees said at an NUS conference fringe meeting in Newcastle: "The foreign secretary used to defend the war on the grounds of democracy and women's rights but can no longer do so. The vilification of Muslims overseas feeds directly into racism at home."

Black Students officer Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, who is standing for president, said: "The campaign for justice for Palestine is for students today what the Aparthied campaign was before."

Daf Adley, LGBT officer and vice president candidate said: "We launched the Love without Borders campaign to fight liberation and not occupation."

Ruqayyah Collector from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: "A quarter of schools in Gaza were bombed from December 2008 and because Of the blockade cannot be rebuilt."

She told the Global Peace and Justice meeting that the NUS had refused to even discuss Palestine despite the TUC - representing seven million workers - had progressive policy.

Stop the War is holding a public debate on the continued occupation of Afghanistan in London April 14 with Mehdi Hasan from New Statesman among the participants.

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