Page last updated at 20:01 GMT, Monday, 30 March 2009 21:01 UK

Muslim 'unsung heroes' honoured

Home secretary Jacqui Smith presents Dr Ikram Malik with the Al Biruni award
Jacqui Smith presented Dr Ikram Malik with an award during the ceremony

A graffiti artist and teenage martial arts participant have been honoured in a ceremony recognising "unsung heroes" of the Muslim community in Britain.

Other award recipients included an alternative therapist, a Church of Scotland minister, and a master player of the Middle East instrument, the Oud.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, facing a row over expenses claims that included two adult films, presented an award.

The annual Muslim News Awards for Excellence are in their ninth year.

Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Communities Secretary Hazel Blears were among more than 800 people invited to the event at London's Grosvenor House hotel.

The winners included:

  • Mohammed Ali, a Birmingham-based graffiti artist whose so-called aerosol Arabic is influenced by both classical Islamic calligraphy and urban street graffiti
  • Imran Sidat, 15, from Leicester, who competes for England in freestyle karate and kickboxing
  • Mohammed Mujahid Ali, an alternative therapist, for work improving the wellbeing and mental health of black and minority ethnic people
  • Reverend Gilleasbuig MacMillan, minister at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, for welcoming Muslims to the cathedral
  • Acclaimed Iraq-born composer Ahmed Mukhtar, who is based in London and is master player of the Oud, the stringed instrument popular in the Middle East

A judging panel drawn from Britain's Muslim community judged the awards in politics, business, sports and the arts.

Ms Smith, who took to the stage to present an award, said: "Promoting dialogue and understanding is crucially important at a time when we see those on the extreme fringes of society peddling an empty ideology of isolation, fear and hatred.

"We will have to stand up to them and we all have a duty to make ourselves heard."

Previous winners have included boxing champion Amir Khan and MP Sadiq Khan.

The editor of the Muslim News, Ahmed Versi, said: "We began this event nine years ago because we believed that British Muslims have a lot to offer to British society.

"The quality of nominations from our 150,000 readers show that British Muslims still have what it takes to be pioneering contributors to the common good."

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