Elham Asaad Buaras
Islamic Relief (IR) marked the beginning of Ramadan and celebrated its 30th anniversary in a joint event on June 26.
Speaking at the event in Westminster, broadcaster Jon Snow said IR represents “the first major organised humanitarian NGO in Britain’s Muslim community. Within just ten years of its foundation, it had become the first Muslim charity to attract UK Government funding, and has enjoyed a fertile relationship with what was then the Overseas Development Aid and is today Department for International Development.”
He added that IR benefits from the fact that “British Muslims give over £100 million to international aid charities in Ramadan alone. It is a pleasure to be part of communicating this good news story from the Muslim community, when so much media coverage seems to be negative headlines focusing on an extremist minority.”
IR’s CEO, Dr Mohamed Ashmawey, announced a special Government funding which will finance a new project in Sudan where it all began for the charity: “Our supporters can double their donations this Ramadan through match funding from the UK Government, enabling us not only to assist poor communities around the world but also to improve health, education, water and earning potential for over 113,000 people in Sudan.”
IR also used the event to publish the results of its YouGov opinion poll, which found that the majority of British Muslims believe in the core British values defined by the PM and are also proud to be British.
According to the poll 63% of British Muslims declare themselves proud to be British, while the number who do not share that pride is just 13% – less than the 17% of Scots who say the same.
Seventy per cent of British Muslims also believe in “freedom, tolerance of others, accepting personal and social responsibility, and respecting and upholding the rule of law” – the core values of Britishness as recently defined by David Cameron – while a tiny 6% do not.
But the same poll reflects an undercurrent of negativity towards Islam in the UK. A quarter of non-Muslims (26%) believe that Ramadan should not be openly celebrated in this country, and 62% of those who would give to international aid agencies admit to being unlikely to give to a Muslim charity – even after being told that in certain countries where the majority of people adhere to a particular faith, the political circumstances can mean that only charities that are affiliated with that faith are allowed access to crisis or conflict areas.