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Issue 158, Friday 28 June 2002 - 16 Rabi' al-Akhar 1423
Queen’s Birthday Honours marred by
By Elham Asaad Buaras
The only Muslim recipient of a knighthood in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Birthday Honour’s List, was at the centre of a cash-for-favours row. Gulam Kaderbhoy Noon, the Indian tycoon behind of one of the most lucrative Asian ready meals companies in the UK, was awarded the knighthood honour this month, despite accusations that this award was a pay back for his £100,000 donation to the Labour Party. The award of the honour was criticised by Labour MP for north Islington, Jeremy Corbyn who questioned the integrity of the award, “Public awards should be for those who contributed to the community, not for people who can afford to gain publicity by large donations.”
However, Noon is not the first donor to receive knighthood in such circumstances, other Labour donors awarded include, the Science Minister Lord Sainsbury of Turville and Lord Paul of the steel industry.
Noon, estimated to be worth over £50 million, strongly refuted the allegations, branding them “rubbish”. Speaking to The Muslim News, he denied any wrongdoing, saying, “this is all rubbish, a process authorised by all political parties approved my nomination, and this (accusation) has not depleted my spirits. However I am delighted that my adopted country has bestowed me this honour for my contribution to industry.”
Noon is not the only Muslim entrepreneur to be awarded, Perween Warsi, 52, founder of S and A foods was awarded a CBE. Warsi, who won The Muslim News Awards for Excellence in 2000, is believed to be the twenty-ninth richest Asian in Britain, started with a staff of six people working in her kitchen. S and A Foods has been listed for five consecutive years as the fastest growing independent food manufacturer in the UK and now employs 1,300 people, producing 1.5 million meals every week.
Renowned architect, Zaha Hadid, 52, is the second Muslim to be awarded a CBE this year. Born in Baghdad, Hadid studied architecture at the American University of Beirut. In 1977, she was awarded a Diploma Prize from the Architectural Association in London. She then became a member of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. She currently has a visiting professorship at Columbia and Harvard University and a series of Master Classes around the world.
Former Chief Executive of Worcestershire Racial Equality Council Waqar Azmi, 32, was awarded an OBE in recognition for his work in community life in the West Midlands. Responding to the award he told The Muslim News he was “honoured and surprised”. “I accept this award on behalf of the many unsung people who work towards racial equality and community cohesion in the Muslim community,” he said.
Azmi, now working with TMP Worldwide, said he hoped that the award being given to someone of his age would “convince younger Muslims that working for the community does not just change lives but it is also rewarding and is recognised.”
Speaking to The Muslim News, Race Equality Council Senior Officer Taifur Rashid said she was “over the moon” at receiving her MBE. Rashid explained that she works with the Bangladeshi and Bengali community in alliance with the Toyndee Housing Association in Aldgate, East London. “As a Senior Housing Officer I assist the non-English speaking community in finding appropriate accommodation, which includes renting and letting. But my work doesn’t stop once they have found accommodation, I also help in helping them claim the right benefits.”
Suleman Nagdi from the Federation of Muslim Organisations told The Muslim News he was “extremely pleased to receive an OBE. I feel proud of my achievements. I’m really grateful to all those that have supported me. And I hope to continue to serve my community in the manner that I have done to date.”
In total there were 15 Muslim recipients in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. 18 Jews received the honours including two knighthoods, one Companion of honour, one DBE, 2 CBEs, 5 OBEs and 7 MBEs. 20 Sikhs and Hindus were honoured. Muslims are the largest faith community in this country.
Kinghthood: Gulam Kaderbhoy Noon, services to industry.
CBE: Zaha Hadid, services to architecture. Perween Warsi, services to business
OBE: Waqar Azmi, former Chief Executive Worcestershire Racial Equality Council, services to community life in the West Midlands.
MBE: Naseem Aboobaker, Co-ordinator Mushkil Asaan, services to London.
Mohammed Adris, Special Constable, West Midlands Police, services to police. Faruque Ahmed, services to the Bangladeshi community in Cheshire. Bashir Chaudhry, services to the community in East London Essex. Suleman Nagdi, Federation of Muslim Organisation, founder, services to Muslim community in Leicester. Mohammed Abdur Rahman, services to primary care in Wolverhampton. Taifur Rashid, Tower Hamlets Race Equality Council, services to community in London. Kutubuddin Ahmed Shikder, services to the Muslim community in East London. Ismail Ahmed Rahman, services to the community in Manchester.
Order of British Empire KBE: Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, services to humanitarian causes and the arts. Commonwealth Awards OBE: Shahnawaz Jan Mohammed, services to the community.
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