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Ed Miliband, Rowan Williams and Mehdi Hasan welcome Ramadan and express support for Islamic Relief campaign

Ed Miliband, Rowan Williams and Mehdi Hasan welcome Ramadan and express support for Islamic Relief campaign

The Leader of the Labour Party, a former Archbishop of Canterbury and a leading political and social commentator all paid tribute to the work of Islamic Relief at the launch of the charity’s War on Hunger campaign on July 4. Ed Miliband, Dr Rowan Williams and Mehdi Hasan were the keynote speakers at an Islamic Relief dinner in central London to welcome the holy month of Ramadan and promote the new campaign.

Ed Miliband said: “I want to congratulate Islamic Relief on its campaign on the War on Hunger. It’s an important campaign because it looks beyond conflict – whether it’s in Syria or in Afghanistan or elsewhere – and it asks the question that all right-minded people would ask, which is: ‘What can we do to make a difference to the most vulnerable people in this country?’

“After the financial crisis, the world is due a reckoning about how it is run. I hope, ladies and gentlemen, that you can be part of this campaign, which actually makes a big argument about the justice this world needs.”

Dr Rowan Williams – now a life peer and Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge – applauded Islamic Relief for its commitment to protecting the poor and vulnerable against natural disasters rather than waiting until disaster strikes to provide aid. “It is time for all our relief and aid agencies to move away from being simply reactive,” said Dr Williams, who is chair of trustees for the charity Christian Aid. “We are not simply problem solvers and we are not ambulance services. We are called upon to take an initiative for the sake of the human dignity in which we all believe.”

The former Archbishop added: “Our faiths have at their heart a vision of the kind of community in which each person is gifted by God to serve every other. That deeply challenging and deeply exciting vision is what we are here to celebrate this evening. In this Ramadan campaign I wish you every blessing and every success.”

Mehdi Hasan, Political Editor of the Huffington Post, praised Islamic Relief for helping both Muslims and non-Muslims – including victims of the Haitian earthquake, Hurricane Katrina and the Japanese tsunami. He was loudly applauded when he said: “As a British Muslim who has long been fed up of having my faith and my community demonised and distorted, I am proud to be here tonight supporting the selfless humanitarian work done by Islamic Relief, especially on the eve of this important month of Ramadan. We Muslims are often instructed to be ambassadors for our faith, and if that’s the case then the men and women who work so hard at Islamic Relief UK and for Islamic Relief across the world are among the best ambassadors of our faith.”

Ramadan is a time when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and give over £100 million to charity as they think about those less fortunate than themselves – including the hungry. Islamic Relief receives around a third of its annual income during Ramadan.

“Ramadan is not just about you and God and your plate,” Mehdi Hasan explained. “It’s about you and others. Doors are flung open, friendships are rekindled, family ties are rejuvenated. And newcomers are welcome too. When people from different faiths and backgrounds get together to share – whether it’s sharing beliefs, sharing ideas, sharing food – that’s the best way to break down barriers, to understand your fellow man, to fight prejudice and stereotyping and bigotry.”

Islamic Relief has launched a hard-hitting fundraising campaign for Ramadan, urging the Muslim community and the wider public to look beyond the politics of war and terrorism and support its life-saving and life-changing work in the midst of conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. The campaign includes eye-catching ‘It’s war’ billboards, newspaper and online advertising and television and cinema ads.

“Today we are declaring war on hunger,” said Dr Mohamed Ashmawey, CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide, as he introduced the campaign with our UK Director Jehangir Malik. “We are asking all those who have the same values as Islamic Relief to work together to help those who cannot help themselves.”

The final speaker of the evening was Sadiq Khan MP, Shadow Justice Secretary and a long-time Islamic Relief supporter. He commended not only the War on Hunger campaign and the “phenomenal and very important work” of Islamic Relief, but also the charity’s decision to spare a thought for those living below the poverty line in the UK this Ramadan. Islamic Relief is collecting food through local mosques and its network of shops to distribute to poor families through food banks around the country.


For more information, contact Martin Cottingham ([email protected] / 07702-940982).

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