Ottawa Muslims receive royal medalWritten by Staff Writer
To mark the Queen of England's sixty years on the throne, a commemorative medal is being bestowed on deserving Canadians across the country.
Among those who have already received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal is Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan, a retired civil servant and refugee judge who is also a journalist and founder of the Muslim Coordinating Council of the National Capital Region (MCC-NCR).
Sheema Khan, whose monthly columns appear in the Globe and Mail, and who is the founder of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, was also bestowed with the honour.
While Canadians can nominate deserving individuals for the award, community organizations selected by the Canadian government, as well as members of Parliament and provincial governments are also encouraged to nominate Canadians for the distinction. Canadians who received the Order of Canada or the Order of Ontario also automatically receive the medal.
Mr. Ali Khan and renowned Toronto journalist Haroon Siddiqui had previously received both the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario and automatically qualified for the medal. Likewise, Hanny Hasan, a London, Ont., engineer and community volunteer who holds the Order of Canada also received the jubilee award.
Other well-known, and lesser known, Muslim Canadian winners include Mobeen Khaja, a community worker in Gatineau; Niagara-on-the-Lake retired physician and community volunteer Fuad Sahin; and advocates for the disabled Rabia Khedr and Uzma Khan.
Ottawa's Wafa Dabbagh, who recently passed away from cancer, also received special recognition. Lieutenant Commander Dabbagh was honoured in June with a special memorial service in Ottawa to mark her contributions to the Canadian armed forces. The ceremony began and concluded with recitation of the Holy Quran by a Canadian Muslim chaplain. It was attended by members of the public as well as members of the nation's top military brass including Chief of Staff General Walter Natynczyck.
“I had no idea when I worked as a journalist, Muslim community leader and promoter of better understanding between people of different faiths that what I did as my duty would one day get me top awards and recognition.
My feelings are of gratitude to Allah and to Canada. I hope this pleases the souls of my parents and elders and that it encourages my children and other youth to work hard for our community, country and humanity.
I also hope that it tells more of our fellow Canadians that Muslims are contributing to Canada every day and that most Muslims are decent, hard-working people who love Canada. Finally, I hope it encourages our youth and our community to work hard constructively, with unity, patience, integrity and faith, as taught by our religion, in order to build a better Canada and a brighter future for our children in our country.”
- Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan
“It meant quite a lot -- to have one's efforts recognized is humbling. The medal was primarily for the Globe columns (I have been writing since Sept. 2002).
There are many Muslims who have been recognized for their contributions towards Canada, which shows that we should continue to work hard for the betterment of society. And such striving is part and parcel of our faith.”
- Sheema Khan
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