Welcome speech by Ahmed J Versi, Editor and Publisher of The Muslim News at the Eleventh ‘The Muslim News Awards for Excellence’

27th Mar 2013

Monday 25 March 2013

Rt Hon Chris Grayling, Rt Hon Sadiq Khan, distinguished guests, ambassadors, ministers and friends, Assalamu ‘alaykum (peace be with you).

Thank you all for attending The Muslim News Awards for Excellence. A very warm welcome to you all.

I would like to extend an especially hearty welcome to those who have been nominated for an award tonight; and to all those among our loyal readers who took the time and effort to nominate individuals and organisations for an award of distinction.

Whenever we organise The Muslim News Awards for Excellence, I ask myself whether I should be going against my professional instinct as a journalist whose operating mantra is: bad news sells.

Certainly that is the case with the Awards itself, which is back after a two year break. The gap is not because of lack of nominations. No, we had a deluge of those. It was because we lacked enough sponsorship to make this event a success. Selling good news is a tough call.

Nevertheless, we at The Muslim News are driven by our duty to tell good news. And by the grace of God, we will be able to do this once again tonight. The awards ceremony showcases the brilliance of the British Muslim community – huge contributions made by diverse men, women and young people from around the country.

And this shows that Muslims are fully integrated in the British society and that multiculturalism has been and is working.

Last summer was truly momentous. The Olympics and Paralympics in London put the capital on the world map and the Games showed that Great Britain is an inclusive country. A good number of our top athletes came from minority communities; Mo (Mohammed) Farah, Jessica Ennis, Nicola Adams, Anthony Joshua, to name but a few.

Before the Games our media and politicians were criticising multiculturalism. However, they made an about turn when they saw the masses embracing it with open arms. Mo Farah hailed the role of Britain’s multicultural society in helping him to his double gold medal Olympic performance, saying it had provided him with the opportunity to shine.  Mo scoffed at suggestions that he could have been prouder representing Somalia, saying: “This is my country and when I put on my GB vest I’m proud. I’m very proud.”

Mo epitomises the best of Britain.

London is a melting pot and multiculturalism thrives in Britain, with a number of cultures all contributing to British life. Britain should be, as the majority of the population are, proud of the multiculturalism that is embedded into British society. London 2012 may have been a distraction from the current economic woes but the positive attitudes and dedication shown are what can help overcome adversity and social injustices to bring about a better quality of life, in British society.

It offers a beacon of hope.

Next year we will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The Muslim News newspaper, the only Muslim newspaper that has survived for over two decades. Many have come and gone. We began publishing when Muslims began identifying themselves as a faith community. So did this paper and it became a rallying point of the community.

The spirit of The Muslim News was thus spelt out in its first editorial “to provide a forum, a medium, to convey the progress of Muslims to draw experiences from others, and to allow the community to grow and develop from within.” Twenty-four years later, 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 upto one-and-a-half million hits a month.

I am delighted to announce that today we have re-launched muslimnews.co.uk with a new look. By the 25th anniversary of the paper, the website will be one of the most comprehensive Muslim website in the UK.

But tonight we are celebrating talents in our community, not only excelling in their respective professions but also contributing to the country. I feel so honoured and proud to be in the company of the array of our future role models.

My congratulations to all of those who are successful and win here tonight.

I hope that you all have an enjoyable evening.

Before I invite the Guest of Honour, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the person without whose support this event would not have been possible, Mahmood Al-Najar.

And now I would like to invite Justice Sec, Rt Hon Chris Grayling.



To read the most recent press release related to the Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2013 please click here

More information on the awards may be found here


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