Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Muslim News Award for Excellence 2016 Recognises the very best of British Muslim Achievement

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2016 ceremony recognises the very best of British Muslim Achievement

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Over 500 people celebrated the 14th of The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event – Britain’s longest standing Muslim awards event – on Wednesday, 20th of April 2016 at Marriot Hotel London. The coveted award ceremony recognised the very best of Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to British society.

Ayaz Bhuta, one of the world’s best wheelchair rugby players and paralympic athlete and European Bronze Medal winner, won the Sport award. Good Citizenship award went to Professor Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, the UK’s oldest and largest children’s charity.

Guest of Honour
Communities Secretary, Greg Clark, MP
Guest of Honour at the event, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Greg Clark, MP, said: “Tonight’s awards typify not only Muslim communities at their best, but Britain at its best.”

He mentioned, “British Muslims have made significant contributions to our country, and all the winners and nominees have offered a helping hand for others, through their charitable and community-based work.”

“The Muslim News awards demonstrate how successful British Muslims are working hard to make Britain even greater, and I offer all the winners and nominees my best wishes,” said Communities Secretary, Greg Clark, MP.

Special guests included Kate Green MP, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Angus Robertson MP, SNP Westminster Leader, Baroness Manzoor, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Work and Pensions and Sadiq Khan MP, Labour candidate for Mayor of London. Also present was Dianne Abbott MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.

They were joined by civic and religious leaders, as well as representatives from the worlds of politics, business, sport and the arts, to honour unsung heroes and heroines of the community.

Messages of support to the event
from all party leaders
Prime Minister, David Cameron, MP, who has attended the event in the past, said: “In this, their 14th year, The Muslim News Awards for Excellence once again highlight an outstanding group of people. Those recognised today represent the United Kingdom at its very best and I would like to offer my personal congratulations to all of the winners and nominees.”

Opposition Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, MP, said: “This awards ceremony is an important opportunity to recognise the huge contribution that Muslims across Britain make to our country every day, showcasing the talent and excellence of individuals in their fields of expertise. From business and technology, to the arts, and sport, it is fantastic to celebrate the achievements and hard work of Muslims from all walks of life.”

SNP Westminster Leader, Angus Robertson, MP, said: “For 14 years the Muslim News Awards for Excellence has paid tribute to the brightest and best, and year after year it has showcased role models who lead by example for younger generations.”

“The Muslim News plays an important role in the Muslim community, both giving voice to the community as a whole and giving expression to the diverse range of views within it,” he mentioned.

Angus Robertson, MP, also said: “I am pleased to see the Awards going from strength to strength. They are an effective way to recognise not only excellence in business, sports, arts, and technology, but also to publicly praise those who have served both the Muslim and the wider communities.”

Ahmed J Versi, Editor of The Muslim News said in his welcoming speech: “I would like to thank all our readers who took the time to nominate men, women and children whose endeavours and activities mark them out for recognition of excellence.

Mr. Versi mentioned, “As in previous years, we have been humbled by the quality and quantity of entries for each award category.”

“At these awards too we identify not only those British Muslims who have excelled in their fields and contributed to the society, but also those who are not Muslims who have stood up to defend Muslims,” Mr. Versi said.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence took place on Wednesday 20 April at the Marriott Hotel London.

Welcome speech by Ahmed J Versi,
Editor and Publisher of The Muslim News
at the 14th ‘The Muslim News Awards for Excellence’
Ahmed Versi, the Editor and Publisher of The Muslim News welcomed all those who have been nominated for the awards this evening. He also expressed thank to all the readers who took the time to nominate men, women and children whose endeavours and activities mark them out for recognition of excellence.

In this connection, Versi particularly pointed out, “Since our last The Muslim News Awards, two issues have heavily impacted on the Muslim community – “new counter terrorism measures and huge increase in Islamophobia and Islamophobic attacks.”

He said, “These are indicative of a growing climate of fear against Muslims. Yet, despite all the challenges, Muslims have continued to put their best foot forward, as exemplified by the deluge of nominations we have received, celebrating the contributions Muslims have made to the British society. It makes me proud to be a British Muslim.”

Aims of the Award
Speaking about the aims of the Award, Versi mentioned, “We had two aims when these Awards were first conceived. The first was to find much-needed role models, especially for young people. The second aim was more ambitious: to provide a counter-narrative for the day-to-day drip-feed of negative and often sensationalist news and comment that passes for journalism.”

Role of Media
Speaking about the role of the Media, he said, “The role of the media in this regard should not be overestimated. I have no hesitation in stating that the climate of fear is generated by the press desperate to seek out, and at times manufacture, examples of Muslim misdemeanour. This was most recently exemplified by the appalling way Muslims have been framed as the fearful “other” in the documentary on Channel 4 following the ICM poll on “What British Muslims Really Think”. Whatever Trevor Phillips says, I say that today is the real demonstration of what British Muslims are really all about. The conclusions from this documentary demonstrate to us how it is possible to use media to spread pernicious hatred against Muslims.”

Versi also mentioned, “The sensationalism from both print and broadcast media comes during a climate of international terrorism that Muslims here in the UK have little control over and very little sympathy for, despite media headlines that insist otherwise. The outcome is not only a climate of fear, but also actual violence against Muslims.”

In this connection, Versi mentioned about a special conference organised by The Muslim News last year. He said, “Last year, to mark the 25th anniversary of the newspaper, The Muslim News organised a special conference that brought together leading figures in the media world with Muslim community activists. The landmark conference produced a series of public interest recommendations for the media, the most imperative of which is an urgent need to separate personal journalistic prejudices from the reporting on Islam and Muslims.”

Political leaders empathised with Muslims
Versi mentioned that only two political leaders empathised with Muslims at the height of recent Islamophobic attacks. “One was the much maligned Opposition Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who joined Muslims at Finsbury Park mosque vigil after it was attacked. The other was Leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon,” said Versi.

He also mentioned, “Sturgeon observed one minute silence at Glasgow Central Mosque to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris realising fully well the difficult time Muslims were going through. Importantly, the Government made much needed policy decision on reporting of Islamophobia attacks. Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced that police forces should record anti-Muslim as well as anti-Semitic crimes.”

Versi also said, “Discussions and proposals to promote integration and cohesion are always welcome. But the starting point should not be, that Muslims are the problem, “not quite British enough”, and must be civilised into a notion of Britishness, nor should it be that Muslims are only seen through the prism of extremism and terrorism.

“Instead we need to hold onto our universal values and not let those who wish to divide us, who wish to break us or who wish to impose their muscular liberalism onto us all, to win,” he said.

Multicultural nation with diversity and talent
Speaking about huge diversity and talent, Versi also mentioned, “We are a multicultural nation with huge diversity and talent as we see here tonight. At these awards too we identify not only those British Muslims who have excelled in their fields and contributed to the society, but also those who are not Muslims who have stood up to defend Muslims. Despite the inaction of our leaders and the continuous hostility from sections of our media, these examples tell us that at the grassroots, we can find countless examples where Muslims and non-Muslims come together in solidarity.”

Speaking about the last year annual Big Iftar event, Versi mentioned, “Last year, Communities Secretary, Greg Clark, launched the annual Big Iftar event at the Ismaili Centre in London. This is one of the many initiatives that the Communities Secretary is involved in as his responsibility of community engagement.”

Versi also congratulated all those who are shortlisted for the awards. He wished them all a very enjoyable and inspiring evening. He said, “My heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all the sponsors, including Human Appeal, one of the fastest growing Muslim charity in the UK, which this year, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. My special thanks to Muhammad Amersi, who made this evening possible. I would like to extend my congratulations to the Queen on her 90th birthday.”

Winners and Presenters of Award for Excellence
This Awards ceremony is about recognising those individuals who aspire to attain their very best as members of the British Muslim society. It is those British Muslims and non-Muslims that have proven themselves worthy of recognition for their contribution to Britain that we are here to honour this evening.

Alhambra Award for Excellence in Arts was awarded to Swadeka Ahsun, International Artist. This Award was presented to her by Kate Green, MP, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.

Annemarie Schimmel Award for Championing a Muslim Cause was given to Jonathan Freeman, Managing Director, Mosaic. This Award was presented by Mohamed Amersi, Founder of Inclusive Ventures Group.

Malcolm X Young Person’s Award for Excellence was given to Saif-Abbas Chato, Higher Education Dept Facilitator – Shia Ithna’Asheri Madressa. This Award was presented by Riaz Esmail, Trustee of The Salaam Centre.

Alija Izetbegovic Award for Good Citizenship was given to Harris Bokhari, Founder, Naz Legacy Foundation. This Award was presented by Lt General Gordon Messenger and Sponsored by Armed Forces Muslim Association.

Uthman Dan Fodio Award for Excellence in Community Development was awarded to MADE [Muslim Action for Development & Environment]. The Award was presented by Sayed Lakhte Hassanain, Chairman of Muslim Hands; sponsored by Muslim Hands.

Al Biruni Award for Excellence in Community Relations was awarded to British Muslim Heritage Centre. This Award was presented by Dianne Abbott, MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.

Sankore University Award for Excellence in Education was given to Dr David Browning, Founder Registrar, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. This Award was presented by Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP, Labour Party candidate for the Mayor of London

Fazlur Rahman Khan for Excellence in Engineering, Science and Technology was awarded to Tipu Zahed Aziz, Professor of Neurology, University of Oxford.  This Award was presented by Rt Hon Angus Robertson MP, Scottish National Party Leader in Westminster

Ummul Mu'minin Khadijah Award for Excellence in Enterprise was awarded to Farouq Sheikh, Chair, CareTech Holdings PLC and Tariq Usmani, CEO, Henley Homes plc. This Award was presented by Rt Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Ibn Sina Award for Health was awarded to Dr Zafar Iqbal, Head of Sports Medicine , Crystal Palace FC. This Award was presented by Othman Moqbel, Chief Executive of Human Appeal; sponsored by Human Appeal.

Ibn Battuta Award for Excellence in Media was awarded to Assed Baig, Journalist, Channel 4 News. This Award was presented by Imran Madden, UK Director of Islamic Relief; sponsored by Islamic Relief.

Faezeh Hashemi Award for Excellence in Sport was given to Ayaz Bhuta, Athlete, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby. This Award was presented by Baroness Manzoor, CBE of Knightsbridge.

Imams Hasan and Husayn Children's Award for Excellence was awarded to Bushra Ulfath, student Mulberry Girls School. This Award was presented by Dr Suhaib Hasan, Trustee, Muslim Aid; sponsored by Muslim Aid.

Imam wa Amal Special Award was given to Professor Javed Khan, Chief Executive, Barnardo’s. This Award was presented by Wakkas Khan, Chair of The Muslim News Awards for Excellence Independent Panel of Judges.

The Editor’s Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Adeela Shabazz, Director, African Muslim Welfare Trust. This award was presented to him by Ahmed J. Versi, Editor The Muslim News.

The Muslim News continues to be the largest circulating, not only Muslim newspaper but ethnic paper too, reaching over 150,000 people in the UK and the website receives up to 1.5 million hits a month.

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