Recognising the heroes in the struggle against Islamophobia
The votes are in and the results out for this year’s Islamophobia Awards. The evening will no doubt be dominated by a light-hearted poke at the hatemongers who have done the biggest disservice to Muslims and their faith over the preceding 12 months.
But among all the fun and jesting the Awards will also send a message of support and encouragement to those who have worked to combat Islamophobia.
The IHRC will be presenting five awards to individuals and groups who have tried to undo the injustices and expose the poisonous propaganda of the Islamophobes.
The five winners this year, in no particular order of preference, are:
Veterans for Peace UK
Veterans for Peace UK are a group of ex-Army veterans of the western invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan who oppose the military campaigns there. The organisation seeks to increase public awareness of the costs of the war and in doing so try to restrain the government from interfering in the internal affairs of foreign nations. Amongst the activities it has instituted is Fast on Fridays, where members fast in solidarity with the remaining inmates at Guantanamo Bay and engage with the general public about western military interventions in Muslim countries. Among its most prominent members is Joe Glenton, an ex-soldier turned writer and filmmaker whose book ‘Soldier Box’ reveals the disillusionment that caused him to leave the army after serving in Afghanistan and Kenya and the personal war he faced fighting for his convictions.
An academic at Manchester University, Katy Sian has courageously tackled the prickly subject of Sikh-Muslim tensions in her research and book “Unsettling Sikh-Muslim Conflict: Mistaken Identities, Forced Conversions and Postcolonial Formations”. The book challenges racialised communities to critically look at their conceptualisations of each other. Sian provides a critical investigation into Sikh and Muslim conflict in the postcolonial setting and maps in theoretically informed and empirically rich detail the trope of Sikh-Muslim antagonism as it circulates throughout the diaspora.
Houria Bouteldja is journalist and political activist and a founding member and spokesperson of the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic (PIR). She is a French citizen of Algerian heritage and outspoken activist on the rights of French residents of African and Arab backgrounds. Her PIR party considers itself to be a product of African independence, and the integration of a previously colonised population, perpetually viewed as the ‘indigenous’ (indigenous to other nations) within France. These individuals are still discriminated against on the basis that they are non-white and carry an implicit status of otherness.
Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project
Part of the Centre for Ethnicity and Gender Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, The Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project (IRDP) focuses on a systematic and empirical approach to the study of Islamophobia and its impact on the American Muslim community. Headed by Prof Hatem Bazian it seeks to construct a theoretical framework in which to anchor research on Islamophobia. The research agenda is centred on Muslims in the Diaspora and the intersection between race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, and religion on one side and the global "war on terror" on the other, its impact on Muslim communities and American culture, and the use of the war to reintroduce long discredited Eurocentric paradigms. IRDP hosts an annual international islamophobia conference and has been routinely targeted by Zionists and Islamophobes
Lynne Stewart is a former US lawyer and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman’s attorney of many years. A brave and outspoken professional she made a name for herself by defending poor and unpopular clients, often agreeing to represent them out of political sympathy with the causes they supported. In 2005 she was spuriously convicted of passing messages to the Egyptian Sheikh’s followers and sentenced to prison where she spent eight years before being released on compassionate grounds following a diagnosis of terminal breast cancer.
The Islamophobia Awards were inaugurated in 2003 as a light-hearted swipe at public figures whose actions have generated or perpetuated hatred and/or violence against Muslims or their religion.
Although they may give the impression of trivialising Islamophobia the awards actually serve to draw attention to its worst manifestations. Throughout the year the IHRC is engaged in the serious business of tackling Islamophobes and helping their victims, so it is a refreshing change to be able to recognise this work by poking fun at the perpetrators. It is also an opportunity for the IHRC to recognise the work done by groups and individuals to combat Islamophobia.
The 2014 Islamophobia Awards are being held in London on 21 February at the Holiday Inn, Wembley, Empire Way, HA9 8DS, starting 6.30pm. The event will consist of performances including comedians, gala dinner, and a fundraising charity auction. It is being streamed live on www.ihrc.tv
Notes to Editors:
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