By TwoCircles.net newsdeskÂ
Glasgow councilor Bashir Ahmad Friday become the first Muslim candidate to be elected to the devolved Scottish parliament.
Ahmad, who was born in India before the partition but lived in Scotland for the past 35 years, was the first of four Scottish Nationalists (SNP) to be elected on the parliament's regional list for Glasgow.
He said he was "very proud" to represent the people of Scotland's biggest city. One of his main goals, he said, was to establish a state-funded school for Muslim children.
His election at Thursday's polls came as the SNP were challenging Labour to become the largest party in the 127-member Edinburgh-based parliament for the first time since devolution in 1999.
A record number of 10 Muslim candidates were standing in the elections, with Labour fielding six, but the majority were placed in virtually unwinnable seats.
Bashir Ahmed 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 has been a member of the SNP's national executive committee since 1998. In 2003 he was elected as Cllr for the Pollokshields East ward of Glasgow City Council.
Upon his selection as secon on the SNP's Glasgow list Cllr Ahmad said: "The lack of any Asian or ethnic minority voice in the Scottish Parliament has been felt deeply in my community. But SNP members have righted that wrong. By doing so, they have proved that the SNP aspires to lead a Scottish Parliament that will represent all of Scotland – a truly national parliament. I firmly believe the SNP can now earn the trust of the Asian community throughout Scotland and that this will be a bond that endures for generations."
Unlike Britain, the Scottish parliament is elected under a dual system of 73 constituency members topped up by 56 from eight regional areas.
The results were delayed by problems associated with elections also being held for local Scottish councils using two ballot papers and two different voting systems.
But indications early Friday morning was that the SNP and Labour were running neck-and-neck after more than half of the results were declared.