Ahmed Jafferali Versi is the publisher and editor of The Muslim News. Reaching over 150,000 people in the UK alone, it has the largest circulation of newspapers for Muslims in Britain. The Muslim News is the only minority publication to transcend conventional ‘ethnic’ boundaries, with its website www.muslimnews.co.uk receiving up to 1.6 million hits a month.
Ranked among the top 20 most powerful Asians in the British media, Ahmed has interviewed world leaders from the late President of Bosnia Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic, to the late President Aslan Maskhadov of Chechnya, and Britain’s Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and Opposition Leaders William Hague, Michael Howard and David Cameron; Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy and Nick Clegg. His stance on reporting behind the soundbites has secured him exclusive interviews with key political figures including the late Hamas leader Dr Abdul Aziz Rantissi, Hizbullah’s leader, Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, and Bishop Gabriel Roric, Sudan’s former foreign minister. He has also interviewed faith leaders like the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and was one of the few faith leaders to meet Pope Benedict during his visit to the UK. He has interviewed The Prince of Wales. He has also interviewed military leaders like Sir David Richards, Chief of the Armed Forces. He also interviewed the Prince of Wales.
During the first Gulf War, Ahmed was part of a British Muslim delegation to Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia mediating for the release of British hostages. He also campaigned with a Turkish human rights group demanding an end to abuses against Muslim business people, and supporting the rights of female students refused admission to university for their decision to wear hijab. In Palestine, he was the first journalist to document evidence of armed Jewish settlers inside the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron – where there years later Muslims were massacred while praying.
In March 2000, Ahmed took a proactive lead in raising the profile of Muslims with the launch of the first ever The Muslim News Awards for Excellence – an annual celebration of unsung Muslim achievement attended in recent years by eminent guests such as the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Away from the spotlight, Ahmed strives to encourage young Muslims in particular to fulfill their potential; he has twice organised a team of British Muslim women to compete at the International Muslim Women’s Games, and until recently was Deputy President of the International Islamic Women’s Games representing non-Muslim countries. He initiated a monthly dialogue between mainly young Muslims and political leaders and policy makers at the House of Commons.
A regular speaker at UK and international conferences covering Islamic issues at the local and global level, he focuses on media representation and manipulation. He addressed the Annual Conference of the Society of Editors on the subject ‘Special Treatment Needed? Reporting Race, Science and Minorities’ and presented a paper on Muslims in Britain to the Fulbright Commission (UK), spoke at a seminar ‘Feminism and Gender Discourse’ in Beirut on ‘UK politicians, the media and the UK’s Counter Terrorism Strategy: Using Muslim women for political ends’. Ahmed also writes and reviews for The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, BBC 24 News, Sky, Press TV and GMTV and was an Advisor to the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism (FAIR) and was an Advisor to the Media Committee of Muslim Council of Britain.
He has been on the panel of judges for several national awards including Amnesty International Media Awards for National Newspapers and the Bar Council Legal Reporting Awards.
Versi has been a consultant to various governmental departments, including Research and Communication in the Home Office. Was part of a delegation organised by the Foreign Office to Tanzania and Kenya for prominent British Muslims to enable the cross-fertilisation of ideas between British Muslims and Muslims around the world. Consultant on Muslim issues to various organizations including the Equality and Human Rights Commission to formulate policy of engaging the Muslim community.
He was advisor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s political advisors on Muslim issues, and part of a team of advisors to Tony Blair after the July 7 terrorist atrocities in London.
Versi is Parliamentary Gallery and (Downing Street) Press Lobby journalist.
He has received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts in recognition of his achievements as Editor of The Muslim News from University of Bedfordshire in 2007.