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January 17, 2020

M Afzal to become Birmingham’s new Lord Mayor

Top Story

January 17, 2020

BIRMINGHAM: Councilor Muhammad Afzal is set to become city’s new Lord Mayor. The veteran Labour politician was elected to be the “First Citizen” of the city where he’s lived for more than 50 years now. Muhammad Afzal who was first elected as a councilor way back in 1982 from city’s Aston Ward is currently the longest serving Muslim councilor in the UK.

Councilor Afzal who originally belongs from Mirpur, Azad Kashmir came to the UK in 1969. He was also the first Muslim to be elected as a councilor in Birmingham. He will be the 5th Muslim Lord Mayor of Pakistani background. Other four are councilor Mahmood Hussain, councilor Abdul Rashid JP, councilor Shafiq Shah and current Lord Mayor Councilor Muhammad Azim.

Councilor Mahmood Hussain was the first Muslim Lord Mayor of Birmingham, while councilor Shafi Shah holds the record of being the youngest ever Lord Mayor.

Muhammad Afzal was selected by councils ruling Labour group earlier this week and the announcement was officially made after the full council meeting on Tuesday. He will take up his new role in May this year when the current Lord Mayor Mohammad Azim will step down after completing his one year tenure at the office.

Muhammad Afzal has also served as the chair of Labour’s BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic) group.

Muhammad Afzal was also elected to be the Lord Mayor back in 2016. But soon after he withdrew from running the post after his alleged remarks about then Prime Minister David Cameron. He was criticised for accusing David Cameron as “Islamophobe” over the government’s anti-terrorism programme “Prevent” during a rally at Birmingham Central Mosque. He was also the chairman of Central Mosque at that time a post which he held for many years. Later in a statement released by Labour party, he termed it a malicious and defamatory campaign run against him and said “Unfair and indeed untrue comments being ascribed to me. I have tried to put the record straight but sadly it has not been possible to do so as rumour and innuendo has replaced facts”. However, now after four years he’s all set to become the Lord Mayor again. He will be city’s 111th Lord Mayor. When councilor Afzal will become Lord Mayor, as per the tradition, the outgoing Lord Mayor councilor Azim will become the deputy Lord Mayor. This will be the first time in the history of Birmingham that both the Lord Mayor and the Deputy Lord Mayor will be not only Muslims but also of Pakistani origin.