Gala awards antidote to Islamophobia

26th Apr 2019
Gala awards antidote to Islamophobia

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, addresses guests at the seventeenth The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event (Photo: Abdul Datoo/Muslim News)

Abdul Adil

Over 550 people joined the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and other dignitaries in celebrating British Muslim and non-Muslim achievements and contributions to society on April 8 in central London.

Those shortlisted for The Muslim News Awards for Excellence, “are #inspiringmuslims [hashtag for the evening], but we need to remember that they are also inspiring Brits in each of the fields that they’re nominated,” said, Khan.

Once again, the awards reflected inclusivity and diversity of the Muslim community with shortlisted people from diverse backgrounds and from across the country, including from as far as Scotland.

Guest of Honour Khan said diversity “is a strength to be celebrated. What tonight shows is the very best of Islam, very best of our city and also the very best of the British Ummah.”

The Mayor accentuated the importance of the awards. “This event is particularly important because it is the best antidote, it is the best uplift we need after the rest of the year when we see some of the negative stories about Muslims here and around the world,” he said, adding that “the citations of the brilliant men and women who are nominated for the award tonight truly is inspirational.”

“And the wonderful thing about these awards is whether it is education or the media, whether it is sports or science, whether it is law or politics, there are good examples of Muslims fulfilling their potentials,” the Mayor said.

Those who have been shortlisted, “every single one of you would inspire a new generation of young British Muslims to fulfil their potentials.”

The Mayor reflected on the murder of the 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, arguing that such atrocities are “one of the ultimate consequences when people belonging to a faith are dehumanised and demonised. That is one of the consequences when mainstream politicians think it is okay to use language which, I call, casual racism, to demonise and to dehumanise those who belong to a certain faith.”

Khan said it was now time for “all of us to call out all those politicians, to those mainstream politicians who use Islamophobic language, who use anti-Muslim hatred to stir up hatred, play on people’s faiths to win votes. We say tonight, enough.”

Ahmed J Versi, Editor of The Muslim News and founder of the awards, said that as in previous years, “we have been humbled by the quality and quantity of entries for each award category.”

Versi added that at the awards “you will find remarkable Muslims making huge contributions to society. You will be impressed and inspired by the high calibre of talent of all the shortlisted candidates.”

Founder of The Muslim News told the guests that this year was the 30th Anniversary of the newspaper. He enumerated the achievements and history of the paper and the British Muslim community.

“There was no media for British Muslims to identify with, to articulate their views and concerns and promote their many achievements.

“Since the paper began publishing in 1989, the British Muslim community was undergoing a watershed moment in its history.

“Muslims started identifying themselves as a faith community and the paper became a rallying point.

“Renowned for its campaigning, the newspaper has taken up issues from state funding for Muslim schools to holding the Government to account for the excesses of its own anti-terror laws.”

Versi then related the challenges Muslims had faced since the last awards; Islamophobia, Islamophobic attacks and consequences of Prevent Extremism policy. He also gave examples of Muslim achievements in sport, education and elsewhere.

He then concluded by saying that “despite such challenges, Muslims continue to thrive and contribute to society.

“Muslim charities and mosques help not only Muslims but others too. For example, they have been providing food banks and shelters for the homeless throughout the year.

“It is, therefore, all the more important to celebrate good news in the community.”

Oruj Defoite, Chair of the awards Independent Panel of Judges, said they found every single entry “remarkable” and they all showed “outstanding commitment in their areas.” She added that “everyone in the room is changing the conversation about Muslims and there was a huge variety of entrants [for the awards] and as judges, we went through them meticulously.”

One of the guests, Sir Jonathan Portal, from Winchester Cathedral, said it was “a pleasure to celebrate with you the amazing achievements of Muslims in the UK and at such a well organised event. Your sparkling event is a beacon, and I congratulate you for making it happen.”

Party leaders sent congratulatory messages to the shortlisted people and winners.

Prime Minister, Theresa May, who has attended the event in the past, said: “These awards rightly remind us of the excellent and inspiring work done by Muslim men and women throughout Britain.

“I commend the work of The Muslim News in recognising the success of individuals in every sphere of society.”

Opposition Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said: “The Muslim News Awards for Excellence is a vital celebration of the brightest and best of the British Muslim community.

“The Muslim News Awards for Excellence is important in encouraging people to step forward so that we can all work together to rebuild our country for the many, not the few.

“My thanks to The Muslim News for hosting and organising this wonderful annual event.”

Liberal Democrat Leader, Sir Vince Cable, said: “The Liberal Democrats are pleased to support the Muslim News Awards for Excellence and their recognition of the many and varied contributions made by Muslims across Britain.

“The awards are a much needed ‘good news story’ for our communities, and I wish everyone well for the celebration.”

SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, said: “I extend the warmest congratulations to all nominees and winners of this evening’s The Muslim News Awards for Excellence.

“Each year, we see the Excellence Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals in their communities.

“Each of your nominations this evening is an inspiration to younger generations.”

The performance during the evening was by SOAS Silk Road Collective. They performed a classical Uyghur musical piece from the renowned Uyghur 12 maqam which is listed as a UNESCO world heritage. The audience experienced a unique cultural tradition of the Uyghur people and realise the importance of preserving this culture now under threat.

Vocals was by Rahima Mahmut who was born in the city of Ghuja, East Turkestan (Xinjiang, China), and through her singing narrates the story of the Uyghur people.

All winners received a beautifully and intricately designed brass astrolabe, an iconic Muslim designed instrument of navigation.

The astrolabe was a highly developed tool used throughout the Muslim world to measure the altitude of stars and planets. By the eighth century, they were used to aid navigation, locate the qiblah (Ka’bah in Makkah), calculate the lunar calendar and to assess meteorological conditions.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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