Winners Names EMBARGOED until 18:00 GMT, Friday 21 February, Shortlist without Embargo
Voting has ended and the results are in for this year’s much-awaited Islamophobia Awards with first prize – unsurprisingly – going to the US president Barack Obama.
Obama had been nominated by the public for “just about everything” – a charge that covers his continuation of drone strikes in the Muslim world as well as the failure to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention centre, and the introduction of the National Defense Authorisation Act that effectively ‘Guantanamises’ the whole USA.
Obama came in streets ahead of a gallery of fellow rogues which included other prominent politicians including French President Francois Hollande – cited for his country’s invasion of Mali – and the British Home Secretary Theresa May for a host of sins including extraditing Asperger’s sufferer Talha Ahsan to the United States, stripping Muslims of their citizenship, and most recently thinking about applying “anti-terror” ASBO-style punishments for British Muslims who are merely “suspected” of so-called terrorist activities.
As well as a chief Islamophobe award, an award is given to the worst Islamophobe in each of five geographical areas in line with the votes received from the participating public.
In the Americas the winner this year was Pamela Geller. Geller was nominated for her rise to fame as the USA’s Islamophobia Matriarch. She has made a name for herself for opposing anything Islamic and particularly her opposition to the planned construction of a mosque near the site of the Twin Towers destroyed in the Sept 11 attacks in the USA.
The clear winner in the UK is a relative newcomer to the Islamophobia industry, Raheem Kassam. Kassam is a Muslim neo-con who has quickly made himself the darling of the British right by attacking Muslim organisations and figures as extremists for defending Muslims’ rights. First prize in the Europe and Central Asia category goes to the Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders. Wilders is the leader of the Netherlands’ Freedom Party, which continues to campaign on its virulently anti-Muslim platform and propagate fears of an impending Islamic takeover of Europe.
In Asia and Australasia, the top prize went to the unlikely figure of Burmese freedom and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner was nominated for her continuing refusal to back citizenship calls by the country’s oppressed Rohingya Muslim minority. The Burmese government’s denial of statehood to the Rohingya is one of the main reasons they are described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted peoples. Along with her National League for Democracy party, Aung San Suu Kyi has tiptoed around the issue and has even refused to condemn the state-supported attacks that ravaged Rohingya communities in 2012.
The clear winner in The Middle East and Africa was Egypt’s General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the army general who conducted a bloody campaign to remove and then ban the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood and put the Arab world’s most populous nation firmly back on the road to military rule.
Although the Islamophobia Awards are intended to be a tongue in cheek poke at public figures of all stripes, they do carry a serious message. Islamophobia is on the rise all over the world, particularly in the West, and the event serves to focus attention on the problem. Five genuine awards will also be given to people who have struggled against Islamophobia.
Islamophobia can be described as stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general. In addition to individual acts of intolerance and racial profiling, Islamophobia leads to viewing Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional, systemic and societal level and perceiving their views to be intrinsically problematic, violent or unethical.
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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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
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Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222