Page last updated at 21:22 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Scotland's first Muslim MSP dies

Bashir Ahmad
Bashir Ahmad took the oath in Urdu when he was elected in 2007

Scotland's first Muslim MSP Bashir Ahmad has died in Glasgow, aged 68.

First Minister Alex Salmond paid tribute saying he was the kindest, most decent human being he had ever met.

After a successful business career, Mr Ahmad represented the SNP on Glasgow Council and in May 2007 he was elected to the Scottish Parliament.

Born in India before partition, he had lived and worked in Glasgow for more than 35 years. He leaves a wife, five daughters and two sons.

Mr Salmond said: "Bashir made history by being the first Scots Asian MSP therefore giving the Scottish Parliament something indefinable.

"He made it representative of the whole country for the first time.

"He was the kindest, most decent human being it has ever been my pleasure to meet.

"And lastly, although he would have considered it to be first, he was the most patriotic of Scotsmen.

"He was a credit to both his faith and to his country."

Labour's Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council said: "Both as a city councillor and an MSP, Bashir had no problem in working with colleagues across the parties in Glasgow's interest.

"He was a gentleman in all he did. I will miss him."

Bashir represented the best of Glasgow and the very best of Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon
Deputy First Minister

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: "Bashir Ahmad was a real gentleman, much liked and respected across the political spectrum.

"To be the first Asian Member of the Scottish Parliament was a real achievement, one of which he was rightly proud.

"Bashir will be sorely missed and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and many friends."

Tavish Scott, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: "I'm desperately sorry to hear of Bashir Ahmad's passing.

"He was a decent and honourable gentleman and a good man to speak to.

"Parliament will miss him, but our thoughts are with his family at this time."

Bashir Ahmad. Scottish Parliament photo
Bashir Ahmad leaves a wife, five daughters and two sons

Labour's leader at Holyrood, Iain Gray, said: "It is with great regret and sadness that I heard of Bashir Ahmad's death.

"I know all Scottish politicians will unite to send our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

"His election as the first Muslim and Scots Asian MSP marked the moment the Scottish Parliament began to reflect the many communities and cultures of Scotland.

"He was well-liked and universally respected, and all his fellow MSPs will miss him."

Deputy First Minister and fellow Glasgow MSP Nicola Sturgeon said: "Bashir Ahmad was an exceptional person, and I will miss him deeply.

"He made all of us immensely proud when he took his Holyrood seat wearing traditional Pakistani clothing, swearing in using both English and Urdu.

"Bashir represented the best of Glasgow and the very best of Scotland."

Mr Ahmad was a regional list MSP, which means there will be no need for a by-election to replace him.

Active career

He came to Scotland aged 21 and worked as a bus conductor and bus driver before buying his own shop.

He subsequently owned shops, restaurants and a hotel before retiring from business.

He was elected five times as president of the Pakistan Welfare Association.

In 1995 he founded Scots Asians for Independence, and he had been a member of the SNP's national executive committee since 1998.

In 2003 he was elected as councillor for the Pollokshields East ward of Glasgow City Council.

He was elected as an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament for the Glasgow region and Scotland's first and only Asian MSP at the 2007 election.

He served on Cross Party Groups for Carers, Human Rights and Civil Liberties, Older People, Age and Ageing, Palestine and Tartan Day.

He was also a member of Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee.

As well as his political interests Bashir was an active member of the Asian and Muslim communities in Glasgow attending a number of the committees of various mosques in the city.

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