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Muslims make stellar contributions to British society

29th Apr 2016
Muslims make stellar contributions to British society

Guest of Honour, Communities and Local Government Secretary of State, Greg Clark addresses guests at the Fourteenth The Muslim News Awards for Excellence gala dinner on April 20

Abdul Adil

Over 500 people from all sections of society from the worlds of politics, business, sport, the arts, civic and religious leaders joined in celebration of unsung heroes of British Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

“I am very grateful to be here, to what has become an incredibly prestigious prize-giving ceremony in which we honour people who deserve to have the spotlight shined on them and to be congratulated for their work,” said the Guest of Honour, Communities and Local Government Secretary of
State, Greg Clark.

The Fourteenth The Muslim News Awards for Excellence gala dinner, British Muslims pioneering awards event, was held in central London on April 20.

In his keynote speech, Clark said that the nominees “typify not only the Muslim community at its best but Britain at its best too.”

“Just looking at the categories that tonight’s ceremony is recognising, British Muslims have made a stellar contribution to our legal, political, cultural, scientific and medical life over many decades, in fact for centuries.”

“But important too are the ordinary heroes of our communities, the people who day in, day out, raise their families, earn their living, keep our public services and our businesses going, quietly form part of the communities. We must cherish them too,” he added.

Ahmed J Versi, Editor, The Mu lim New; Greg Clark; Mohamed Amersi, Founder, Inclusive Ventures Group and Sayed Bukhari, Founder and Director, HPM Developments Ltd (Photo:Abdul Datoo/Muslimnews)

Clark praised the charitable work that the Muslim community is doing in the UK. “British Muslims are the most generous of the charitable donors. So during the floods, right across the country, we saw mosques, we saw youth associations, charities and individuals, coming together with others to help people in need, not just on their own doorsteps but those in need many miles away from their own homes. It was a moving example of Britain at its best,” he said.

Welcoming the guests, including the Communities Secretary, Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi, congratulating those who were shortlisted for the awards, said he was “humbled by the quality and quantity of entries for each award category”.

Versi said that since the last Awards, two issues have heavily impacted on the Muslim community, “new counter terrorism measures and huge increase in Islamophobia and Islamophobic attacks.”

“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.”

Versi argued that as a nation, “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 added that the awards do not just identify 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” and that “these examples tell us that at the grassroots, we can find countless examples where Muslims and non-Muslims come together in solidarity.”

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Kate Green, said it was “an honour and privilege to be here tonight at The Muslim News Awards. It is a privilege to congratulate so many people who have contributed so much to our country. I thank every single one of you for what you are doing.”

Green said her Muslim constituents tell her of the “pain and hurt they feel when Muslims and Islam are causally denigrated, insulted, when I hear sweeping and disrespectful statements, when I hear people attacked and condemned for their beliefs and the faith they follow, I am angry. But more importantly, when I know that young people are angry, when I look at their talent that we have among young Muslims, we can’t afford to make young people angry. We need people to be inspired and encouraged to achieve their aspirations.”

Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader, Angus Robertson, stressed importance of the awards ceremony as it “not just because it celebrates the vital contributions made by those in the Muslim community to all walks of life throughout the UK but also because it showcases role models to inspire those young people who will lead the Muslim community into the future.” Robertson said Muslims in Scotland play a vital role “right at the heart of the society, making an enormous contribution on strengthening in faith relations.”

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Work and Pensions, Baroness Zahida Manzoor, said the shortlist were “inspirational to us all. Inspite of many challenges they have overcome these by determination, tenacity and will to succeed. I applaud them all.”

Labour Mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, said best antidote to life your spirits or “to put spring back into your footsteps then come to the Muslim News Awards for Excellence and see the very best of British.” He added that one of the great things about living in London, is “not that we just tolerate each other but we respect each other and we celebrate each other.”

Khan said that in the elections, the negative and divisive campaigning against him is going to increase.

“We can’t let them be divisive as we have seen here tonight we have the best of artists, the best of academics, the best of charity workers, the best of doctors, the best of entrepreneurs, who are British, some are Londoners, all of them Muslim.”

He advised those who wish to have careers in political and public life not to be disillusioned by the negative attacks on him because of what he is, that is, a Muslim. He gave example of how the first generation, who continued to strive despite facing racist attacks. “We owe it to them to carryon working hard to make sure we make history.”

One of the guests at the awards, Luqman Ali from Khayaat Theatre Company said: Thank you once again for a stupendous awards ceremony. The solidarity, peer-to-peer networking, and the celebration of the achievement of people dedicated to service and excellence made the evening memorable.”

“Thank you for the very well organised event and excellent evening. We were proud to see that the Muslim community are doing so well,” said Iqbal T Suterwalla, Director, T.R.Suterwalla Group of Companies.

In a message to the event, Prime Minister, David Cameron, who attended the awards in 2014, 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, 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, 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.”

All winners received a beautifully and intricately designed brass astrolabe, the iconic image of the fourteenth year old awards ceremony. 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 (the direction towards the Ka’bah in Makkah Muslims face when praying), 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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