Is Bradford the right city to host the British Muslim Awards 2019?

Have you ever searched ‘Bradford’ on Google? It brings back some interesting results. Unsurprisingly, most of them are around crime, migration, sport and more crime.

Bradford as a city hasn’t got the best reputation and that’s no secret. Widely regarded as a working class town with a large ethnic community, containing Britain’s largest Asian population and nicknamed ‘Bradistan,’ the city isn’t one associated with rich culture, wonderful architecture, friendly people and all the other factors that make a city great.

But the same can also be said for the Muslim community in Britain.

The city of Bradford holds an uncanny parallel with the British Muslim community. When the word is mentioned, it’s often the negative connotations and associated controversy that come to mind before any of the positives. For example, a YouGov poll revealed the public considered Bradford the UK’s most dangerous city – but it’s actually one of the safest according to the UK Peace Index! It’s also been named one of the best cities in the UK to start a business based on business rate relief, rent cost and infrastructure. Not to mention all the talented musicians (hello Zayn Malik!), the award-winning curry scene, gorgeous greenery and diverse communities residing and co-existing that make Bradford as special as it is.

Bradford is reflective of many issues facing the Muslim community in terms of the way it’s represented in the media, unfair stereotypes, apparent yet hidden strengths and unsung positivity. And this is precisely why we’ve chosen Bradford as our host city for the 2019 British Muslim Awards, for the second year running. It wouldn’t be necessary to list all the negative connotations associated with the word ‘Muslim’ and we would rather not use this space for that purpose – everyone either has some level of awareness or has experienced Islamophobia as a direct result of the inescapable misinformation and perpetuated stereotypes circulating online and in the media. Islamophobic attacks in the UK have grown year on year according to Tell Mama, and in the wake of Brexit, Islamophobic attacks spiked to the highest they’d been in years; a general pattern has emerged in recent times where attacks seemingly increase directly after a terror incident (in the West).

However, a majority of people and more importantly the Muslim community itself know how important the British Muslim footprint has been in terms of impacting industry, culture and the economy. British Muslim leaders have a profound impact across every sector of industry including politics, art, technology, charity, sport, education, medicine, business, entertainment and food among others. These awards, held appropriately in Bradford, are the perfect place for British Muslims to counter the negativity, take up space, unapologetically celebrate their achievements, be recognised for being both Muslim and exceptional at their craft and continue to use the awards as a means to market themselves going forward. Bradford and the British Muslim community have so much more to offer than they’re given credit for. And we here at Oceanic hope these awards will do their bit to show everyone just how much British Muslims have to offer, in a city as unique as it is remarkable in its own right.

The British Muslim Awards are taking place on Tuesday 19th February at the Bradford Hotel.