CAIRO – An Indian-origin Muslim councilor Abdul Razak Osman has been sworn in as the first ever Muslim mayor in the multi-cultural town of Leicester, the post seen as a challenge as Britain prepares for the Olympic Games.
“It’s an important year, with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, so it’s a privilege for me to hold office with everything that’s going on,” Councilor Osman said at the swearing in ceremony, The Indian Express reported on Friday, May 18.
“I want to focus on visiting the communities and raising the profile of the office of Lord Mayor,” he added.
Osman was born in Kenya and arrived in the UK in 1971.
Joining the city council in 1996, he takes over from Councilor Rob Wann.
Leicester previously had Hindu and Sikh Lord Mayors, but Osman is the first Muslim to hold the high office.
“I’m proud to be the first Muslim councilor to hold the position – we’ve had Christian, Hindu, Sikh and now I’m able to bring the Islamic faith to the office which is a great honor,” Osman added.
The term of Leicester’s Lord Mayor is one year, and runs from May to May.
Though being the first Muslim to fill Leicester’s mayoral post, Osman is not the first British Muslim to serve in a high-profile public post.
In May 2011, Councilor Naveeda Ikram was named as the lord mayor of the district of Bradford, the first Muslim woman to hold this high post.
Earlier in November 2010, Lutfur Rahman was elected as the mayor of the East London borough of Tower Hamlets, the first Muslim mayor in Britain.
In 2007, Muslim Labour MP Shahid Malik became the first British Muslim minister after he was named as a minister under Secretary of State for the Department for International Development (DFID).
Malik has also served as Justice Minister, Home Office Minister and most recently as Minister for Race, Faith and Community Cohesion.
Another Muslim MP, Sadiq Khan, was also appointed in 2007 as a government assistant responsible for parliamentary affairs.
In the 2010 parliamentary elections, eight Muslims were elected as MPs in the House of Commons.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a British-born of Pakistani origin, is the first Muslim woman to serve in the British Cabinet as minister without portfolio.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2 million.
The majority of the multi-ethnic minority has Indian, Bengali and Pakistani backgrounds.