Controversial honours list met with praise and condemnation

Over 50 Muslims were named in the Queen’s 2022 New Year Honours List but backlash grows over the knighthood of Tony Blair, one of the main architects behind the Iraq War.

Commentators have also been scathing about the knighthood of Trevor Phillips, who has been accused of making Islamophobic comments in the past.

Muslims were recognised for their notable efforts in a number of areas, including community engagement, interfaith services & charitable services.  

Many were singled out for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as Dr Syed Ahmed (OBE) for services to the vaccination programme, Kaneez Khan (MBE) for interfaith relations during Covid-19, and Rizwan Patel (OBE) for services to the disadvantaged communities, particularly during the pandemic.

Rizwan told Ilford Recorder: “I am honoured and humbled for the recognition.

“If we have been blessed, then it is a duty that we give something back; being a Muslim one knows that charity is an integral part of our lives.”

Muslim athletes were also honoured, including Olympic boxing gold medallist Galal Yafai (MBE), Paralympian gold medallist Ayaz Bhuta (MBE) and martial arts specialist Khadijah Safari (BEM), who recently appeared on our morning show Salaam Britain.

Honours show Britain’s ‘bigotry blind spot’

But there has also been an uproar about the honours, as some of the highest awards were given to those that “demonise communities”— especially the Muslim community.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair became a member of the Order of the Garter, England’s oldest and most senior order of chivalry. The appointment was a personal choice of the Queen.

Over 600,000 people have signed a petition to remove the former Prime Minister’s knighthood.  

“He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes,” says the petition.

Rapper Lowkey tweeted: “The British empire has always honoured it’s [sic] best killers with knighthoods, road names, statues etc Tony Blair is not an aberration.”

Veteran journalist John Pilger said: “The contempt in which Britain’s elite holds the public has never been more eloquently expressed than in the decision to award Tony Blair the highest order of knighthood. One million Iraqis dead, three million dispossessed, a trail of blood to 7/7. Rise Sir Tony!”

The knighthood of Trevor Phillips was also met with disdain. Phillips, who previously chaired the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), was suspended from the Labour party for his comments about Muslims. His later reinstatement by the party was described as an ‘example of Islamophobia’ by the Labour Muslim Network.

“Islamophobia is Britain’s bigotry blind spot – when our honours system rewards those that demonise communities that are an integral part of modern Britain it shows how deep rooted this form of racism has become @APPGBritMuslims,” said former Conservative cabinet minister Baroness Warsi.

Freelance Journalist Taj Ali shared on Twitter some of the comments Phillips has made about Muslims.

“This man has just received a knighthood. An insult to millions of British Muslims. I hope that one day Islamophobia will get the scrutiny it deserves,” he said.

Meanwhile, writer Nels Abbey asked why Phillips’ knighthood is not being lauded by minorities: “Question for his apologists: If Trevor Phillips did knighthood worthy work in the realm of ‘equality’, why are ethnic minorities – the supposed “beneficiaries” of his work – not falling over themselves to congratulate him? Publicly most have expressed disgust or stayed silent.”

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