Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: A record number of Muslims have been recognised by the Queen in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list including some of the highest numbers from Pakistani heritage in recent times.
Thirty-five Muslims were awarded an honour in this round, the highest number ever, with 12 percent of those being honoured coming from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. This New Year’s list shows the government’s diversity drive in the honours system has started to work.
Aamer Naeem, CEO of Penny Appeal, a UK-based humanitarian organisation, was awarded an OBE for his work in the charity sector, and specifically his efforts in developing the British Muslim community.
His tireless efforts in growing the charity from a £400k a year operation to one that brings in over £20m within five years was rightly recognised by this award in the honours recitation.
Nasar Mahmood, the chair of the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester, also received an OBE for the many years of work he has dedicated to fostering peaceful community relations. Local interfaith and other community initiatives run by Mahmood led to his successful nomination.
British Muslim women of Pakistani heritage were also recognised. Jamila Kosser, also from the north of England, was awarded an MBE for the volunteer work she does with the homeless community.
The recognition of so many from minority backgrounds can be seen as part of an initiative to increase diversity in the UK honours system, typified by the work of Harris Bokhari, an independent member of the honours committee at the Cabinet Office.
Speaking to The News & Geo, Bokhari said: “The rightful recognition of minority communities in the recent honours list, is no more than they deserve. The government now sets out very clear guidelines, on how to nominate someone for an honour, and it is a simple online process”.