Humza Yousaf becomes the first racial minority and Muslim to lead Scotland

First Minister Humza Yousaf on the steps of Bute House with his cabinet

Humza Yousaf has been sworn in as Scotland’s new First Minister to become the first ever racial minority and Muslim to lead the country. He takes over from Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first female leader and the country’s longest-serving one yet.

“As immigrants of this country who knew barely a word of English, they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that their grandson would one day be on the cusp of being the next First Minister of Scotland,” Yousaf said of his grandparents at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium on Monday, after winning a leadership contest. “We should all take pride in the fact that today we have sent a clear message that your color of skin or indeed your faith is not a barrier to leading the country that we all call home.”

Yousaf’s victory isn’t historic for Scotland alone. He is the first Muslim politician elected to be a national leader in a Western democracy. Yousaf is also the first ever ethnic-minority leader of a devolved U.K. government. That his victory comes so soon after the election of Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last year and Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar returning to power in December 2022 means that, for the first time in history, the British, Scottish, and Irish leaders are all of South Asian origin.

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