"Islamic Relief have the capacity to create the right spirit in which the people of Iraq will feel empowered to rebuild their own country." Clare Short MP
On the 31st of May Islamic Relief (IR) held a Fundraising dinner in aid of Iraq at the Second City Suite in Birmingham, UK. The event was one of many taking place around the country.
Guest speakers included Clare Short MP, the former Secretary of State for International Development, and Aljazeera war correspondent Maher Abdullah. IR staff who had recently returned from Iraq also gave eye-witness accounts of their experiences.
Ms Short spoke of the great efforts of organisations such as IR, emphasising the importance of faith-based NGOs in the reconstruction of Iraq. “Islamic Relief has a special responsibility,” she said. “They also have the capacity to create the right spirit in which the people of Iraq will feel empowered to rebuild their own country.”
Ms Short commended the work of Islamic Relief, adding that the people of Birmingham could take great pride in this local organisation. She spoke of the good-will established by IR over the years, and emphasised that all people from all backgrounds must unite to help the people of Iraq.
Aljazeera’s Maher Abdullah
Aljazeera’s Maher Abdullah gave a moving eye-witness account of the horror and hardship faced by the Iraqi people. Despite international efforts to aid the people of Iraq, he said a great deal remained to be done.
The audience also heard Dr Naila Syed describe the physical and psychological traumas faced by the Iraqis, especially children. Dr Syed explained the diseases prevalent due to sanctions and twenty years of hardship endured by the Iraqis.
The evening was rounded off by an auction of art. Items going under the hammer included framed photos of historical sites in Baghdad, as well as hand-painted Qur’anic verses. Bids went as high as £2800 for rare art pieces generously donated to IR.
In the final speech, Dr Hany El Banna, President of IR, spoke passionately about humanitarian values and the individual’s role in helping to alleviate suffering. He highlighted the need for charity and the significance of the work of NGOs in bringing hope to disadvantaged people.
The evening of information and entertainment raised over £45,000 for the Iraq appeal. With more events scheduled in the near future, Islamic Relief is committed to ensuring that the difficulties faced by the people of Iraq remain in the forefront of everyone’s minds.