Making History, Muslim Runs to Become Scotland First Minister

Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s health secretary, made history on Monday, becoming the first Muslim to launch bid to become the Scottish National Party (SNP) next leader and First Minister.

If elected, Yousaf will replace Nicola Sturgeon who shocked many in British politics last week when she announced she was resigning.

He launched his campaign on Monday in Clydebank, a town about eight miles west of Glasgow that was once renowned for its shipbuilding history.

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The town is special for Yousaf because his grandfather, Mohammed Yousaf, got his first job after emigrating to Scotland in 1962 in the town, The Guardian reported.

His grandfather “couldn’t have imagined, not in his wildest dreams, that his grandson would be running to be first minister of Scotland,” he said. “I believe I have the necessary skills to bridge divides.”

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Yousaf, the most prominent Muslim politician in Scotland, was the first candidate to announce his intention to stand in the leadership contest.

Pledging to uphold Sturgeon’s socially progressive policy agenda, Yousaf received a boost on Monday when Angus Robertson, 53, the culture secretary, announced he would not be running.

This would make the contest a two-candidate race between Yousaf, 37, and Kate Forbes, 32, the socially conservative Scottish finance secretary, who confirmed on Twitter that she was standing to succeed Sturgeon.

Scotland has about 75,000 Muslims. About 40% of them live in Glasgow.

Muslims are the second largest religious group in the country, which has around thirty mosques.

Who Is Humza Yousaf?

Yousaf is a Scottish politician serving as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care since 2021. He is the first non-white cabinet minister in the Scottish Government.

A member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), he has been the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Glasgow Pollok since 2016, having previously represented Glasgow region from 2011 to 2016.

Born and raised in Glasgow, Yousaf attended the University of Glasgow, earning an MA in politics.

Before becoming an elected official, he worked as parliamentary assistant for many prominent MSPs, including then First Minister Alex Salmond and then Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Yousaf served in numerous junior ministerial roles including: Minister for External Affairs and International Development from 2012 to 2014, Minister for Europe and International Development from 2014 to 2016, and Minister for Transport and the Islands from 2016 to 2018.