SYDNEY – Reflecting on the important role of Muslims in Australia, the annual award ceremony has been held to celebrate the remarkable achievements of 2013 role models in their community.
“These awards celebrate the important role that Australian Muslims have played in Australia’s past and present and will continue to play in the future,” Maha Najjarine, Mission of Hope’s President and coordinator of the Australian Muslim Achievement Awards (AMAA) 2013, told Muslim Village on Wednesday, December 4.
“This is a great way to foster the community spirit and inspire our younger generations to become future leaders,” Najjarine added.
The awards were announced in a ceremony held last Sunday with entertainment and special guest appearances by former MasterChef contestants Amina ElShafei and Samira ElKhaffir, and 2013 winner of Channel 7’s The Mole, Hilal Kara-Ali.
In the 8th Annual Australian Muslim Achievement Awards (AMAA), 16 Muslim individuals and organizations were honored for their efforts to serve the society.
The awards include Youth of the Year, Woman of the Year, Man of the Year and Lifetime Achievement.
Other categories included the nomination of Afghan refugee Akram Azimi as the Young Australian of the Year for his work as a mentor for young Indigenous people.
Offering role models for the Muslim community, the ceremony was also praised for celebrating the significant accomplishments of Australian Muslim individuals and organizations and raising their profile in Australian society.
The awards were sponsored by Fresh Poultry, Human Appeal International Australia and Pharmacy4Less.
The awards were also instrumental in raising the profile of Australian Muslims, both at an individual and organizational level and promoting their achievements.
The AMAA awards also recognized efforts of non-Muslims who have helped foster mutual respect and understanding, by awarding AFL Auburn Tigers Captain and primary school teacher Kirrily Boyd, the prestigious Abyssinian Award.
The award was named after the people of Abyssinia who provided shelter from prosecution to the first Muslims over 1400 years ago.
Islam is Australia’s second largest religion after Christianity.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
At the ceremony, 16 celebrated award categories were announced to raise the profile of Australian Muslims and promote their achievements.
Getting the title of ‘Man of the Year’, Oguz Taskun, was recognized for his tireless efforts as director of humanitarian aid organization World Orphan Fund.
The Women of the Year Award went to Tasneem Chopra for her work to facilitate Muslim women’s full participation in Australian society through programs and services designed to empower while promoting social justice.
For 23 year old Ahmad Al Rady, who received double nominations for Youth of the Year and Creative Artist of the Year, the event was cause for celebration as he walked out with Creative Artist of the Year.
Ahmad is the co-founder of the Bankstown Poetry slam, widely known as the biggest slam in Australia, and hopes to continue working to raise the importance of the arts in the community.
“This award is a testament to the importance of the arts – one of the most powerful platforms to give people a voice – and to write history with,” said Ahmad.
Another memorable winner was Maha Abdo-Krayem, the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, who was honored for her work in 30 years of service to the community through her role as the Executive Officer of the United Muslim Women Association.
The title of the ‘Community Organization of the Year’ went to the Crescent Institute while ‘Business of the Year Award’ went to Hijab House, the local shop that originated in Centro Bankstown.
The best community initiative award was granted to Activ8 Youth Mentoring Program.
The program was established in 2012 and specifically caters for disengaged/at risk Muslim youth, predominantly from an Arabic-speaking background, at Auburn Girls High School and Granville Boys High School.
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