Newly elected Sheffield councillor uses maiden speech to denounce xenophobia

A pro-EU rally was held outside Sheffield Town Hall on Wednesday July 6th. Photo: Chris Etchells

A pro-EU rally was held outside Sheffield Town Hall on Wednesday July 6th. Photo: Chris Etchells

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A newly elected Sheffield councillor used his maiden speech to highlight the rise of racism and xenophobia that followed the EU referendum result.

Broomhill and Sharrow Vale councillor Magid Magid, elected in May of this year, asked the council to ‘unequivocally condemn’ those who use the result of the EU referendum to spout their ‘vile hatred’ of others.

Broomhill and Sharrow Vale Green Party councillor Magid Magid

Broomhill and Sharrow Vale Green Party councillor Magid Magid

Coun Magid, who fled from war-torn Africa to Sheffield aged four, is the first Somali-born councillor to be elected to the chamber.

The Green councillor said he was ‘proud’ of Sheffield being a ‘diverse, tolerant and inclusive’ city but added some people had used the recent EU vote as ‘cover’ to hide behind to ‘hurt and divide’ communities in the city.

“This city that has welcomed me, my family and many others which I call home is very diverse and it’s only right and proper that Sheffield City Council should reflect that reality,” he said.

“As Sheffield’s first Somali councillor, I’d like to think I’m making my own small contribution to that particular cause.

“I am proud and honoured to be a councillor and I intend to work hard with courage, conviction and humility while also striving to make a positive difference.”

He added Sheffield Council has an ‘excellent track record’ of showing compassion and solidarity for victims of terrorism from other countries and expressed his disgust at recent attacks in Bangladesh, Iraq, Turkey and the gun massacre in Orlando.

Coun Magid also used his maiden speech to ask the council to develop a clear policy for raising other nations’ flags in a show of solidarity.

The proposal was rejected.