Manchester's First Muslim Mayor Promotes Understanding

June 3, 2005

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On June 3, 2005 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "It's a long way from the hot plains of provincial Pakistan to the damp urban sprawl of northwest England. But for Mohammed Afzal Khan, the real journey did not begin until after he'd arrived in 1970s Britain as a bewildered 12-year-old who spoke no English, and had few friends and little clue about the culture he was entering. Three decades later, Mr. Khan capped an extraordinary odyssey from humble obscurity to high office when he became the first Asian lord mayor of Manchester. The new mayor, who has been described as an 'Asian Dick Whittington' (Britain's Horatio Alger), is gracious enough to admit that his improbable ascent says more about Manchester than the man. It was, he says in a phone interview, the 'greatness of the city' and the 'celebration of diversity' that made it all possible. Yet much was also due to his own determination to better himself and ignore any snide, racially tinged discouragement. Now Khan agrees that his achievement could well inspire Britain's 2 million-plus individuals of south Asian origin, who still resent their underrepresentation in the upper echelons of British society."