Humza Yousaf becomes first Muslim to lead Scotish national party
Humza Yousaf, the first Muslim leader of a major UK political party, faces an uphill battle to revive Scotland’s drive for independence following the long tenure of his close ally Nicola Sturgeon.
The new and youngest Scottish National Party (SNP) leader, 37, says his own experience as an ethnic minority means he will fight to protect the rights of all minorities — including gay and transgender people.
The Glasgow-born Yousaf took his oath in English and Urdu when he was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2011, before progressing to become the first Muslim to serve in the devolved government’s cabinet.
He has been hailed by his supporters as a polished communicator who can unite the party as support stagnates for the SNP’s central policy — independence for Scotland.
Despite the UK government’s opposition to a new referendum, and a Supreme Court setback, Yousaf vowed in his victory speech Monday to deliver independence in this generation.
And, as his wife and mother brushed away tears, he paid tribute to his paternal grandparents after they came to Scotland from Pakistan in the 1960s barely speaking English.
They would not have imagined “in their wildest dreams” that their future grandson would become the leader of their adopted homeland.
“We should all take pride in the fact that today we have sent a clear message: that your colour of skin or indeed your faith is not a barrier to leading the country that we all call home,” Yousaf said.
He also vowed to be his own man as Scotland’s first minister. But far from running away from Sturgeon’s controversial record, he also says he will keep his experienced predecessor on “speed dial” for advice.