Thursday February 23, 2017

A British Muslim alternative to The Brit Awards

The Muslim Charities Forum held the first-ever ‘Humanitarian Awards’ to showcase the contributions British Muslim charities have made to societies in need in the UK and abroad, and in response to a growing trend of Islamophobia and hate crime.

With The Brit Awards taking place on the same night, a battle ensued to see which awards ceremony would trend number 1 on twitter.

#MuslimCharityAwards ended up trending number 2, with twitter coming alive to showcase the incredible work Muslim charities are doing in the UK and around the world.

Many notable dignitaries were in attendance, such as Dr Hany El-Banna (Founder of Islamic Relief and Muslim Charities Forum), Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Clare Short (former Secretary of State for International Development), Saleh Saeed (CEO, Disasters Emergency Committee) and diplomats from the Malawi and Philippines embassies.

Islamic Relief UK won ‘Advocacy Campaign of the Year’ for its work on raising awareness on the issue of climate change in the UK, and playing a leading role in coalition efforts to lobby the UK government to ratify the Paris Agreement.

Adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP21) in December 2015, The Paris Agreement was ratified by the UK government in November 2016, during COP22.

The award, presented by Kate Osamor MP (Shadow International Development Secretary), also recognised Islamic Relief UK’s work across different faith groups. This included an ‘Interfaith Climate Symposium’ featuring in the New Statesmen, and leading a civil society to COP22 to support the activities of the Global Muslim Climate Network.

The work by Islamic Relief UK is built upon, and is a result of, the incredible global advocacy campaign by Islamic Relief Worldwide and the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), which  encourages Muslims to tackle climate change following the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change which was launched in April 2016.

Their global campaign also encouraged Muslim governments and communities to ‘tackle the root causes of climate change’ through making the shift to renewable energy. The Declaration has been endorsed by the highest Muslim Authority in 12 countries namely Uganda, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, Indonesia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, UK, France, USA and Canada. As a result national advocacy campaigns like this one have been run across the globe, amplifying its impact.

Islamic Relief UK’s Ramadan ‘SubhanAllah’ campaign was nominated for Fundraising Campaign of the Year, and Charity Week 2016, which raised over £1 Million, was nominated for the Volunteer of the Year award.

Whilst Charity Week may not have won, the Volunteer of the Year award was picked up by Zakariya Sharif Nur, who was nominated by MADE – a tenacious campaigner with a longstanding affinity with Islamic Relief, having most recently been a part of our delegation to COP22 advocating on climate change.

If there is one message to be taken away from the Humanitarian Awards, it is the need for more collaborative working amongst faith and non-faith organisations.

In his speech, Tufail Hussain, Deputy Director of Islamic Relief UK said: “Given the rise in Islamaphobia and aid scepticism, it is more important now than ever before that we work together and showcase the work we are doing to politicians and key stakeholders.”

This was the first of what we pray will become an annual awards ceremony to highlight the incredible generosity of British Muslims, and celebrate the vital humanitarian work Muslim-led NGOs and aid agencies are doing around the world.

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