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April 10, 2003

Muslims boycott CRE Media Awards

Muslim leaders have accused the Commission for Racial Equality of being insensitive to Muslim views by continuing to hold their annual media awards during Friday prayers.

Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Iqbal Sacranie and Editor of The Muslim News Ahmed Versi are both boycotting the Race in the Media Awards this Friday after having their complaints rejected by the CRE.

Dr Abdul Bari, the Deputy Secretary-General of the MCB, described the timing of the awards between 11.45 am and 3.30 pm as “highly insensitive.” It was “no wonder why the CRE is so unpopular with Muslims,” he told The Muslim News.

Acting chair of the CRE Beverly Bernard at the time of the invitations did not have the courtesy to reply to a letter from The Muslim News. The letter expressed surprise that the CRE were not aware about the ill-timing of the event and added that the CRE “which deals with minority communities, would be aware of the sensitivities of the Muslim community”. Instead a response was delegated to chief executive Daniel Silverstone, who said it was an “oversight” and would take account of this but only for subsequent events.

Silverstone failed to explain the timing of the event, but defended holding it on a Friday, saying it was to “maximise the opportunity for media coverage as the Saturday editions of the national newspapers and the Sunday titles are more likely to focus on events of this type.” He also accepted that “there does clearly need to be a balance between generating media interest and meeting the interests of the communities we serve.”

The CRE media office insisted that it was not aware of the issue, but would not say how many Muslims had been invited although some Halal meals had apparently been ordered. “We don’t give out that information,” Rebecca Crosby said, but added that invitations had been sent to all ethnic minority peers and MPs.

For further information contact us on 020 8863 8586 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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