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Muslim with message on freedom to Isis is made MBE by Prince Charles

Published 19/11/2015

Zia Chaudhry was awarded an MBE at Buckingham Palace
Zia Chaudhry was awarded an MBE at Buckingham Palace
Dr Oliver Johnson, who worked in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak, has been made OBE

A barrister honoured by the Prince of Wales for trying to bring people of different faiths together said he was doing nothing more than being a "good Muslim".

Zia Chaudhry, who received the MBE at Buckingham Palace for services to interfaith relations in Merseyside, said "everybody has a role to play" in preventing a Paris-style attack in Britain.

He posted a message to Islamic State (IS) on Twitter in the wake of last Friday's attacks praising the Queen for honouring a Muslim.

In it he said he "hadn't done much" to receive the honour and said being a good Muslim was just like being a good British citizen.

Mr Chaudhry, 45, said extremists had "missed" the many Islamic lessons that preached harmony and said Britain was like "heaven on earth".

Speaking after the ceremony he said responsibility for preventing a similar atrocity in this country was not just a matter for the security services.

"Everybody's got a role to play, of course the security services have got to do their job, the authorities have got to do their job, people in the community have got to be vigilant and they are. Nobody in a mosque wants to see somebody acting suspiciously, it harms individuals and it harms the community as a whole."

He added: "I've done nothing more than try to be a good Muslim, which as it happens is pretty much the same as being a good British citizen. To then get rewarded for it is a pleasant surprise and also very inspiring."

Mr Chaudhry, a barrister who is of Pakistani origin, has used his advocacy skills for more than a decade to help dispel myths about Islam and Muslims.

Prince Charles is a supporter of his charity, the Spirit of Cordoba, which he set up in 2007 to promote an understanding and raise awareness of Muslim history, culture and achievements.

The Prince told him to "carry on the good work" and congratulated him on his successes so far, he said.

He added he was not going to "rest on his laurels" as his work to bridge interfaith relations was "more important than ever".

In his letter to ISIS he said that he was receiving the honour despite on occasions making his own criticisms of Western policy.

He wrote: "They don't seem too bothered by that. I imagine they regard it all as part and parcel of the freedoms the Almighty granted to us humans, although I'm guessing that was one of the many Islamic lessons you missed."

The Prince also honoured medical professional Dr Oliver Johnson, 29, made OBE, who risked his life fighting the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.

Among the other recipients was Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief of Nature, one of the world's leading scientific journals, who received a knighthood for services to science.

Former Tory MP Anthony Steen, who stood down amid controversy over his expenses claims, was also honoured for his campaigning work tackling human trafficking and modern slavery.

Mr Chaudhry said receiving the honour gave him the confidence to carry on with his work, although he appealed for more Muslims to be given a voice in the media.

He said: "Certain opportunities have been presented to me that a lot of Muslims don't get, that's one aspect of it, and another is - and Muslims are rightly critical of this - when we do speak up nobody takes any notice.

"Every major Muslim organisation has condemned what happened in Paris but it doesn't necessarily follow that their condemnations make the headlines."

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