London's Westminster Council elects Muslim Hamza Taouzzale as lord mayor

The council has also for the first time appointed an imam as chaplain

Lord Mayor of Westminster Hamza Taouzzale looks at photos of his predecessors. Photo: Westminster City Council
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A councillor elected to be lord mayor of Westminster, in central London, has become the first Muslim and youngest ever person in the role.

Losing Westminster Council to the opposition Labour Party in May's UK local elections was one of the highest-profile Conservative Party losses on a bad night across the country for the Tories.

Now Hamza Taouzzale, 22, of Moroccan heritage, who was born in Queen's Park — the Westminster area he represents as councillor — is making history.

“I'm the first Muslim Lord Mayor of Westminster, so the first person who's not from a stereotypically white background,” he said.

Westminster has also for the first time appointed an imam to be council chaplain.

“This is a real honour and a privilege and a total surprise,” Mr Taouzzale said.

His grandmother moved from Morocco to London and the Lisson Green housing estate where Mr Taouzzale grew up. He recently completed his master's degree in global affairs at King’s College London.

“This is a job that’s above politics, so you have to keep the office out of the day-to-day council business, otherwise it will lose its importance,” he said.

“But I do want to get out far more in the community, to be more visible in areas where the lord mayor isn’t normally seen.

“A lot of people don’t know what the lord mayor is or does and I really want to change that during my year in office.”

He still has to decide what his main charity will be but said he was keen on helping local youth charities.

“I want to open this up and get people from the community to join me at events,” he said.

Hamza Taouzzale was elected as a Westminster City councillor in 2018, becoming its youngest-ever member. Photo: Westminster City Council

Another change at Westminster council is the Lord Mayor’s chaplain will for the very first time be an imam.

Kabir Uddin, who runs an Islamic school and is chaplain at HMP Wormwood Scrubs prison will take on the role.

The incoming lord mayor, who was raised on the Lisson Green estate, said: “I think I’m a bit of rarity among lord mayors in that I was actually born and brought up in the city.

“A lot of people come here for work and settle in Westminster and then take an interest in politics and join the council.

“I think growing up here gives you a closer connection to the city and its people. And as an ordinary working-class local, I especially want to show young people that there are opportunities out there for them and to make a difference.”

Mr Taouzzale said the appointment is the highlight of a career that started just six years ago — when he became an MP in the UK's Youth Parliament.

After a year, he joined the Labour Party and worked hard on being selected as a candidate in Queen’s Park, replacing Alderman Barrie Taylor.

He was elected as a Westminster City councillor in 2018, becoming its youngest-ever member.

Updated: May 20, 2022, 6:03 PM
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