Young Muslims take lead in celebration for 2012 Olympic Games

Young athletes and sports personalities took centre stage at the Muslim Council’s third annual Muslim Leadership Dinner, in celebration for this year’s Olympics.

Olympic hopefuls, Mohammed Sbihi (rowing), Darren Cheesman (hockey) and sporting personalities joined ambassadors, MPs and other dignitaries to speak about their passion for their chosen sports, as well as sharing inspiration from their faith. Messages of dedication, determination and commitment were heard throughout the evening at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

In his welcome speech, Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB, said: "This event is an occasion to celebrate the determination and positive achievements of Muslims in Britain, to encourage Muslims to be optimistic and creative participants." He commended the contribution of the rich and diverse range of the affiliates of the Muslim Council including leading charities, entrepreneurs, mosques and institutions. He spoke of the importance of engaging with young people and encouraged the Muslim community to invest more time and energy with them.

Multi-medal winning Paralympian, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, shared her own inspirational story of getting involved with sports when everyone else told her she "shouldn’t bother" because she was in a wheelchair. She talked about the importance of education and the role her father played in encouraging her to work hard at both school and sports simultaneously.

In preparation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, guests watched live performances by Colin Nell, a professional football freestyler, and also watched a live competition between all the Muslim athletes and sports personalities present during the evening for an improvised freestyle performance.

Guest speaker Dr Hany El Banna OBE, founder and former president of international relief agency, Islamic Relief, called for the community to take charge of its own destiny, including raising the profile of women, opening up to critical thinking and new scholarship, and celebrated the democratic tradition of the UK. He also discussed the importance of leadership, saying: "If you want to create leadership you need to serve, educate and train society – youth, women and men."

Other speakers, such as Professor Salim Al Hassani, President of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation, UK, recalled the great Muslim contributions to athletics, sport and science throughout history. He said that the recognition of this contribution was essential in bringing humanity closer.

Anas Altikriti, Director of Cordoba Foundation, said "Olympics 2012 provides a fantastic opportunity to show the single most unique attribute that makes London and Britain stand out on the world scene; real and genuine diversity which sees Britain’s Muslims present in every facet of life and part of everything that makes this country special".

The MCB would like to thank it’s supporting partners, Al Imdaad Foundation, Muslim Aid and Human Appeal who all contributed to the success of this event, as well as all sponsors for their generous contributions and support.