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Enterprise minister vows to help community entrepreneurs at The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event

30th Jun 2023
Enterprise minister vows to help community entrepreneurs at The Muslim News  Awards for Excellence event

Home Affairs Correspondent

Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, pledged to ensure every British Muslim can start a business at The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event held on June 19. The Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business, who has previously spoken out against Islamophobic media coverage, condemned the “horrendous” discrimination facing Muslims as “not something any sensible person wants to see” in the UK.

Appearing alongside London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Scottish National Party Westminster Leader Stephen Flynn, and Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities and Labour Party Chair, Anneliese Dodds, Hollinrake, who has served on Rishi Sunak’s frontbench since entering No 10, was the guest of honour at the nineteenth The Muslim News Awards held in central London.

He said: “I am delighted to be presenting the awards for enterprise. I was in business for 30 years. I would like to thank The Muslim News and Ahmed Versi for the work they do in organising these awards and for 33 years representing the Muslim community. Thank you for all the work you do.

“It is horrendous to hear about the discrimination facing your community. It is not something any sensible person wants to see in our communities. Our department is totally focused on making sure every single person in this country gets the opportunity to start a business and grow that business.”
Hollinrake was on hand to present the Ummul Mu’minin Khadijah Award for Excellence in Enterprise to Farzana Rahman, who launched The Desi Doll Company 14 years ago.

The annual event recognises the very best of Muslim contributions to British society, whether they are in sport, science, the arts, or any number of categories.

Flynn, who presented the Alija Izetbegović Award for Good Citizenship to Dr Mahamed Hashi, said: “I got into politics because I believe in two things. I believe in hope, and I believe in change. As a member of the SNP and as a senior figure in the SNP, I cannot describe the pride I have that our party has a Muslim leader, and he is the first Muslim leader of any Western democracy. I am sure people in this room are as proud of Humza Yousaf as I am.

“The late great Bashir Ahmed, when he was in the Scottish Parliament, said something that is very powerful. ‘It does not matter where you come from. What matters is where you are going together.’”
Established as an annual event in 2000, The Muslim News Awards for Excellence has now become a major fixture in the British Muslim calendar. Previous guests of honour have included HRH the Prince of Wales, and numerous senior members of the government, including Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron.

It also presents a chance for prominent British Muslim figures to highlight their experiences in their fields. At the gala dinner, Labour MP Naz Shah encouraged all the nominees to “keep doing what you are doing”, adding: “Leadership is a lonely place when you are a victim of Islamophobia or any type of racism or prejudice.

We need allies across the House, and across the communities because, united, we are much stronger. I am so inspired to be here. I am a Muslim MP celebrating with my fellow Muslims. Every one of you gives us hope and makes my job a little easier.”

Her Labour colleague Dodds said: “I have been meeting people here tonight and learning about the contribution you are making to this country, whether it be in the arts, science, media business, or literature. It is really incredible the breadth of expertise we have in this room.”

The Editor’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to the late Hamed Chapman, who sadly passed away this year.

The Muslim News Editor, Ahmed J Versi, who paid tribute to the late writer, also said: “This award ceremony showcases not only the professional brilliance of the British Muslim community but also the immense social contributions made by diverse men, women, and children from across the country.

“Despite these remarkably positive stories, Muslims continue to suffer from Islamophobia, as frustratingly illustrated by the Home Secretary’s scathing slander of Albanian immigrants last year and British Pakistanis in April. All political parties in the UK, including Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, and even the Scottish Conservative Party, have accepted the APPG British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia. However, the Conservative government has refused to adopt the urgently needed working definition.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, now a fixture of the event, paid tribute to Versi and said the awards “highlight the immense contribution our community has made and continues to make across every sector of modern Britain.”

He added: “As Mayor of London, I want to take this opportunity to express my congratulations and gratitude to all the nominees and winners tonight for your personal achievements and success and for helping to show that our country’s diversity isn’t a weakness but our greatest strength. It is humbling and heartening to see how far we’ve come because life as a Muslim in Britain hasn’t always been easy.

Yes, of course, I feel blessed to live in this country, I feel proud to be British; and yes I firmly believe London is the greatest city in the world, but we have to be honest in acknowledging that Islamophobia has been a consistent and painful part of the British Muslim experience.”

Hollinrake’s words were backed up by Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who said in a statement: “British Muslims make an outstanding contribution to national life, and I am pleased to support these fantastic awards, which provide a crucial platform to celebrate and recognise these successes.”

Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer pledged to stamp out Islamophobia in Britain and said: “British Muslims and their contributions have been significant in shaping Britain and will continue to be a pivotal part of our story.” He cited the record number of Muslim parliamentarians, including Shah, who currently sit as Labour MPs.

And Liberal Democrat Leader, Sir Ed Davey, said it was “important to celebrate these many successes” to unite as a diverse society.

The evening featured songs by the popular singer-songwriter from Essex, Safe Adam. 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 assess meteorological conditions.

Photo: (L-R) Ahmed J. Versi, Editor, The Muslim News; Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; Kevin Hollinrake MP; Minister for Enterprise, Markets, and Small Business; Stephen Flynn MP, Scottish National Party Westminster Leader; and The Earl Howe, Deputy Leader, House of Lords.
(Credit: Abdul Datoo/The Muslim News)


The Muslim News Awards for Excellence: 2023 winners


Click here for 2024 nomination form

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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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