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Gold-winning Olympians among 21 Muslims named in New Year honours

27th Jan 2017
Gold-winning Olympians among 21 Muslims named in New Year honours

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah knighted in New Year Honours (Photo: 2012 London Parade/Muslim News/Ahmed J Versi

Elham Asaad Buaras

The achievements of 21 members of the Muslim community were recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours (1 knighthood, 1 CBE, 6 OBEs, 7 MBEs, 1 overseas MBE and 5 BEMs).

The men and women come from across the country representing a vast array of fields including sports, arts, literature, enterprise, and science.

Among the 1,199 people awarded in this year are 21 members of the Jewish community (1 Damehood, 1 CBEs, 4 OBEs, 7 MBE s and 8 BEM) and  29 members of the Hindu and Sikh communities (1 knighthood, 4 CBEs, 3 OBEs, 1 overseas OBE, 13 MBEs, 6 BEMs, 1 Police Medal).

Four-time Olympic gold medallist and Britain’s most successful track and field star Mo Farah called his knighthood a “dream come true” for a Somali boy who arrived at the capital unable to speak English.

The 33-year-old retained his 5,000 and 10,000 metres titles at the Rio Olympics, becoming the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals.

Farah is already a CBE following his double gold at the London Games but said the knighthood was overwhelming. “I am so happy to be awarded this incredible honour from the country that has been my home since I moved here at the age of eight,” said Farah.

Born in Somalia, Farah spent most of his early life in Djibouti and came to London when he was eight to join his father. He would go on to train at Newham and Essex Beagles Athletics Club.Farah landed his first major outdoor gold medals by winning the double at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona.

Success at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu followed, as would double gold at a home Olympic which catapulted him into a household name.

Mohamed Sbihi, 28, was awarded the MBE for services to rowing (Photo: Team GB)


Farah’s not the only medal winning Muslim Olympian to be recognised in the honours. Rower Mohamed Sbihi, 28, was awarded the MBE for services to rowing.

Sbihi was born in Kingston upon Thames to a British mother and a Moroccan father. He studied Sports Science St Mary’s University College on a sports scholarship from 2006 to 2010. Before he joined rowing team he played both association football and basketball.

At 15 he was scouted and offered a spot at GB Rowing World Class Start programme. Sbihi finished first in the junior men J15 category at the 2003 GB Indoor Rowing Championships.

At the 2012 London Olympics, he was part of the crew that won the bronze in the eight.

In 2013, he was part of the 8 men team that won gold at the World Championships; the following year he won gold in the coxless-4 at both the European Championships in Belgrade and the World Championships in Amsterdam. In 2015, he won gold at the World Championships for the third consecutive year.

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sbihi was part of the team GB coxless-4 team that won gold, Britain’s fifth consecutive gold in the event.

Reacting to his MBE Sbihi said, “When you think 2016 can’t get any better….one more surprise! Thank you for all the support and to everyone, that helped me achieve my dreams”.

Saba Nasim BEM

Saba Nasim was honoured with a BEM for services to cricket and young people in London and her work to promote grassroots cricket amongst girls.

In 2013, having noticed a lack of opportunities for girls in the East London, Nasim set up Redbridge Rangers, an all-girls cricket team funded by Chance to Shine & Essex County Cricket Board. She went to local schools and giving them taster sessions in cricket.

Nasim says she found it hard to break through into schools as cricket was not on the curriculum but her determination has now led her to have coached over 600 girls in the area.

The girls from the Redbridge project come from a range of backgrounds but have joined together to make a formidable side, regularly winning the regional Chance to Shine Street competitions.

Nasim, a solicitor by profession, gives up her free time to coaching and running weekly cricket sessions in Redbridge and Newham for girls.

Being acknowledged in the Honours caps off an incredible 2016 for Nasim, who was named a ‘Point of Light’ by former Prime Minister, David Cameron, and was also named ‘Coach of the Year’ at the annual Chance to Shine awards at the prestigious Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Nasim told The Muslim News, “It feels amazing” to “know that the work I am doing at the grassroots level is being recognised at a national level. I would like to thank the Chance to Shine charity, Essex County Cricket Board, my local cricket club, Wanstead CC and my parents for giving me the opportunity to become a coach and for supporting me through the various cricket projects over the past few years.”

Fellow EastEnder Emrul Islam is also awarded the BEM for his services to sport and the community in east London.

Islam chairs Whitechapel-based Newark Youth charity which helps disadvantaged youths take part in sports and youth clubs as role models to promote active citizenship.

Newark Youth London helps youngsters make informed choices about their lives before problems escalate, teaching social skills such as teamwork, communication and time-keeping.

It has had success in reducing crime by channelling teenage energy into positive activities, which include after-school clubs, football with coaching, tournaments, volunteering, day trips, work experience, educational trips and accredited training courses.

Islam was born in Sylhet, Bangladesh, in 1980 and moved to the UK aged 4. His family moved to the Tower Hamlets in 1986.

Islam joined the Civil Service in 2003 and completed a Diploma in Building Surveying in 2014. He is currently studying for a degree in Building Surveying at the University College of Estate Management, Reading.

In a statement to The Muslim News Islam thanked the members and volunteers of Newark Youth London adding; “I hope to use sport as a vehicle to drive change in the community, promote social cohesion and empower young people to become respectable role models themselves. I envisage setting up more of these community projects in other boroughs of London to give girls a chance to try the sport.”

Co-founder and Chief Operating Office of Sfhere, Shezad Nawab was appointed an MBE for services to the business and diversity.

Nawab, a deaf entrepreneur based in Birmingham, has been actively helping many new businesses, start-ups, SMEs and growing businesses through his consulting and management firm.

Besides making investments, planning exit strategies and a range of other conglomerate activity, he also runs three businesses including Pitching Events, a support network to help disabled business owners get in front of lenders and pitch their idea.

After graduating from Birmingham City University with a degree in Business and Marketing in 2009 he went on to win a series of prestigious awards including the 10 Most Influential Disabled People in Business in 2014, Business Initiative 2011, Young Entrepreneur 2011 and Innovation Winner in 2010.

Nawab told The Muslim News the MBE was “a huge surprise” adding “I don’t know who nominated me. I would like to say thank you very much.”

Also made an MBE is Threshold Studios, Co-Founder and Director Uzma Johal for services to the Digital Economy in the East Midlands.

The award recognises her contributions in championing diversity and equality of voices in the arts and media, fostering talent and devising routes into the industry for those under- represented. She has been producing new media art since 1998 and is the Festival Director of Lincoln’s Frequency Festival of Digital Culture, established in 2011.

In 1998 she co-founded Don’t Look Now, a voluntary organisation that develops local media artists and supports local communities in Northamptonshire. Its rapid success evolved in the establishment of Threshold Studios, a not-for-profit social enterprise whose mission is “creative media for social change.”

She served on Arts Council England’s Regional and then Area Councils for eight years advocating for diversity and equity in the arts, especially for emerging talent, as well as the opportunities technology affords the sector in connecting with a wide spectrum of communities.

As Festival Director of Lincoln’s Frequency Festival of Digital Culture, established in 2011 with partners in the City of Lincoln, she has led the festival to become a distinctive feature in cultural calendars, reaching over 17,000 people in 2015, as well as being a key driver for economic development in the region.

Johal acknowledged “the amazing Threshold Studios team and board, who have worked tirelessly to realise our ambitions. It certainly takes an army and I am also grateful to our funders, collaborators, and partners for continuing to support us in enabling the next generation of digital creatives to take flight.”


Muslims honoured in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours:

Knighthood (Kt):
Mohammed Muktar Jama Farah CBE, for services to Athletics.

Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE):
Naim Ibrahim Attallah, Publisher, Quartet Books, for services to Literature and the Arts.

Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE):
Abdul Fazal Bhanji, Deputy Chair, University of London Board of Trustees, for services to Education and Young People.
Ghulam Mufti, professor of haemato-oncology, King’s College London, for services to haematological medicine.
Mohammad Taj, President, TUC, for services to Trade Unionism.
Iman Abou-Atta, Founder, SCEME, for services to Community Cohesion.
Dr Hakim Yadi, CEO, Northern Health Science Alliance, for services to Healthcare Technology and the Economy.
Naseem Aslam Khan, MD, Jennings Motor Group, for services to the Economy and charity.

Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE):
Shezad Nawab, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Sfhere, for services to Business and Diversity.
Mohammed Abid Saleh, Detective Constable, CSE Team, Lancashire Constabulary, for services to Policing and the community in East Lancashire.
Mohammed Aikhlaq, Chair of Governors, Leigh Primary School, Birmingham, for services to Education.
Inayat Omarji, for services to Built Heritage and the community in Bolton.
Mohamed Karim Sbihi, for services to Rowing. Uzma Johal, Festival Director, Frequency Festival and Cofounder and Director, Threshold Studios, For services to the Digital Economy in the East Midlands.
Javid Khan, For services to the Prevention of Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence.
Imran Amed, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Business of Fashion, for services to Fashion.

Diplomatic and overseas MBE:
Shehzad Charania, Lately First Secretary, British Embassy, The Hague, Netherlands, for services to international law and legal diplomacy.

The British Empire Medal (BEM):
Mohammed Farooq, for services to Fundraising and Providing Meals to Disadvantaged Children in Peterborough.
Emrul Islam, Chair, Newark Youth London Lte, for services to Sport and the community in East London.
Siraaj-Ul-Haq Nadatf Senior Quality of Life Facilitator, Changing Our Lives, for services to People with Disabilities in the West Midlands.
Qurratul Annie Zaidi, for services to Football Coaching. Nadia Fauzi Saba, for services to Triathlon in Bristol.

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