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Last Updated: Monday, 2 July 2007, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Profile: Sayeeda Warsi
Sayeeda Warsi
Ms Wardi has been critical of 'political correctness'
Sayeeda Warsi, who has become shadow minister for community cohesion, is thought to be the first Muslim to reach such a prominent position in British politics.

Although not well known to the public, she has a high profile among David Cameron's Conservatives.

Having served as a special adviser on community relations to previous leader Michael Howard, she has been a vice-chairman of the party since 2005.

In 2004, she gave up her job as a solicitor - and a 130,000 annual salary - to stand for Parliament in her home town of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

She lost to Labour's Shahid Malik, but will now be given a peerage to enable her to enter the shadow cabinet.

Ms Warsi - who is married with a daughter - says her admiration for Conservative principles is inspired by the example of her father, who made his way from working in a mill to running a 2m-a-year bed manufacturing firm.

She is fluent in Punjabi, Urdu and Gujarati, and Mr Cameron will be hoping Ms Warsi can reach out to communities with low levels of Tory support.

Ms Warsi has, however, been quite outspoken in her views. She has criticised state schools for offering "too politically correct" a curriculum.

She is also against all-women shortlists for Tory parliamentary candidates.

During her career, the 36-year-old has worked with Pakistan's Ministry of Law on a project to fight forced marriage.

She told the BBC News website in 2005: "There has been a terrible myth created that it's an Asian issue, worse still, a Muslim issue. There is no place for it, certainly in Islam."

Educated at Leeds University, she describes herself as a "Northern, working-class roots, urban working mum" and says the Tories have a "real commitment" to engaging "with real people".

Her new job will give Ms Warsi the chance to do just that.


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