More needed than ever

PRESS RELEASE

Islam Awareness Week is 20 years old and more needed than ever

 

10th March 2013

National Islam Awareness Week is 20 years old this year (2013) and its work is needed more than ever before. That is, if the alarming level in anti-Muslim politics across Western Europe is anything to go by. We can’t afford to ignore it.

What began in 1994 by the Islamic Society of Britain as a positive social project to raise awareness of Britain’s second largest faith group, was highlighted in 1997 by the report Islamophobia, A Challenge For Us All by the Runnymede Trust. It shed light on a prejudice existing within Britain that challenged our very British sense of fairness.

Julie Siddiqi, Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Britain explains:

“The main idea of Islam Awareness Week has always been to promote social cohesion rather than dwell on differences, it’s not about preaching. We believe it has already made a significant and historic contribution to community relations since 1994, but there is a lot that’s still to be done and some frank conversations are needed.”

Over the 20 years, Islam Awareness Week (IAW) has seen hundreds of events in towns and cities across the UK, bringing many people together. It has received high profile support from politicians and celebrities with the bulk of the work carried out by volunteers who organise dinners, coffee mornings, lectures, concerts, mosque open days, tree planting, inter faith events, community volunteering and film shows – to name a few. Previous launches have taken place in the Houses of Parliament and major cultural venues such as the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and the Royal Geographic Society in London.

Mahmooda Qureshi, the National Co-ordinator for 2013:

“Islam Awareness Week is a genuine example of how volunteers can come together to take some positive action and give time to others. It’s always heartening to know that despite all the scary stories and threatening labels branded around, so many people welcome the positivity of our national campaigns and are keen to get involved.”

The 20th anniversary theme is THE THINGS WE HAVE IN COMMON. It will share its message through lived experiences – objects, moments and memories of real people. Videos and photo stories will be released that tell these stories, and can be used by schools. Mahmooda speaks about the videos:

“We want to tell peoples’ stories, the parts of our lives we have in common with others, be they life changing or just a little quirky… and we’ve come across some wonderful stories: Joel and Nurjahan speak about being homeless in the past, Hilary and Helen have both survived cancer, and Tracey and Farzana, well they’ve been reminiscing about their favourite childhood sweets and TV programmes!”

Notes:

1) For media enquiries: 07092 013 614  or [email protected]

2) For the official Islam Awareness Week website:  www.iaw.org.uk