• Saturday, June 22, 2024


First Muslim mayor for Solihull ‘wants to spread unity’

Shahin Ashraf is the first person from an ethnic minority group to become mayor of the borough

Mayor of Solihull councillor Shahin Ashraf. (Photo: Solihull council)

By: Sam Greenway

A councillor who has become Solihull’s first Muslim mayor says she is hoping her appointment will spread unity.

Shahin Ashraf, the first person from an ethnic minority group to become mayor of the borough, received overwhelming support from councillors as she was appointed to the position on Tuesday (14).

“I sit here deeply humbled,” she told those gathered at the full council meeting, including her family and friends.

“I promise to serve the borough with dedication and integrity.

“I am eager and excited to begin this new chapter with all of you on this journey of service, unity and progress for our beloved borough.”

Ashraf, who was born in Meriden, has worked in the charity sector, spoken at the United Nations and was made MBE in 2015.

The new mayor was elected to the authority in 2018 to serve Shirley South and went on to become the deputy leader of the Green group on the council.

Nominating her, councillor Max McLoughlin, the leader of the Green group on the council, said: “The fact Shanin wears a hijab means she is easily recognised for her faith but she is not defined by it.

“Shanin will be the first Muslim and first Muslim woman to be mayor of Solihull.

“This is something I know, and Shanin knows, comes with greater levels of attention and scrutiny than for many others who have worn the robes before.”

Councillor McLoughlin then quipped: “It is difficult not to mention colour – Shanin will be the first Green to be mayor of Solihull.”

Councillor Ben Groom, the seconder to the proposal of her nomination, added he hoped the appointment would mean “young women from our growing South Asian community and beyond will see politics is an achievable and rewarding option for them”.

During the meeting Solihull councillors also agreed to change the procedure for the election of mayors going forward.

Traditionally outgoing mayors served as deputy mayor in the following year but it has now been agreed the deputy will go on to become the mayor the following year – a method used by many local authorities nationally.

Coun Annette Mackenzie was the first to be elected as deputy under this new proceduce during the meeting at the Civic Suite.

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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