PRESS RELEASE: Rewarding those who fought Islamophobia


December 17, 2005

Rewarding those who fought Islamophobia: The Real Winners of the Islamophobia Awards 2005

Whilst the Islamophobia Awards remains largely a comedy event (see, every year IHRC takes the opportunity to remind participants of the very real and serious problem of anti-Muslim hatred and hostility. As part of this, IHRC presents awards to those who have struggled against this prejudice in different ways.

This year four individuals and one organisation are to be presented with awards. They are:

Rik Remmery (Belgium). Remmery refused to sack a worker at his factory who wore hijab (Islamic head covering), despite receiving death threats including bullets in the post, and a notice of a 250,000 Euro bounty on his head.

Maria Vamvakinou (Australian MP). Vamvakinou spoke courageously and prophetically in the Australian parliament against calls for hijab to be banned at school and against the vilification of Muslims by politicians and press, stating that it provoked backlash and could tear the fabric of Australian society.

Keith Shilson (UK). Shilson is the President of Middlesex University Students’ Union and refused to cancel a debate at which Muslim group HizbutTahrir were invited to present their case. The University suspended Shilson’s students status as a result.

Neturei Karta. This Orthodox Jewish organization has campaigned tirelessly with against Israeli atrocities and Zionism. Rabbis from NK USA and UK have worked with Muslims on the Palestinian issue and have done much to explode the myth that Muslims – particularly religious Muslims – are inherently anti-Semitic.

Maryam Hafezji (UK). Mrs. Hafezji is a resident of North London, who has had to battle against Islamophobic harassment by neighbours for two year, during which time the local police failed to take adequate notice. During this time, Mrs. Hafezji has resisted pressure to be bought out from her home o remove as a result of the harassment, and eventually succeeded in spurring the police into action after CCTV footage of the attacks on her home and the threats she received were broadcast on Channel 4 news.

Chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Massoud Shadjareh said:

“These awards are but a small and inadequate way of acknowledging the courage and principles of some exceptional people. Whilst this event has sough to expose Islamophobia and its proponents, it also seeks to celebrate the very best in human nature that the battle against such prejudice brings out in people and groups. It is bravery such as that shown by the winners that gives us all hope that this evil prejudice will be overcome.”

For more information or a full press pack, outlining the reasons for the nominations and the background to the awards, call the Press Officer on (44) 20 8904 4222 or (44) 7958 607475[ENDS]