Humza Yousaf made history after his appointment as the First Minister of Scotland — being the first person of colour and the first Muslim to hold the coveted post. Of Pakistani descent, the new Scottish First Minister paid homage to his roots as he donned a black shalwar kameez during his oath ceremony at Scotland’s highest court, the Court of Session in Edinburgh. In an emotional speech, the Scottish leader said that he is “forever thankful that his grandparents emigrated from Pakistan to Scotland over 60 years ago… and could not imagine that two generations later their grandson would be on the cusp of becoming Scotland’s First Minister.” He stressed that ‘migrants should be celebrated.’
Yousaf also took to Twitter to express his gratitude to his supporters. ” From Punjab to Pollok, people from across the world & here at home have been offering me their good wishes, grateful for all the kind msgs I have received. ”
From Punjab to Pollok, people from across the world & here at home have been offering me their good wishes, grateful for all the kind msgs I have received.
Can I thank Kate & Ash in particular for their kind words of support. We’re united as a team who will deliver for Scotland.
— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) March 27, 2023
The 37-year-ol first caught the internet’s attention when he took his oath in Urdu while being sworn into Parliament in 2016.
” I remember watching Humza Yousaf swearing his oath in English and then in Urdu and being in awe of him – to honour both aspects of himself so publicly to me felt brave. Today means a lot ”
I remember watching Humza Yousaf swearing his oath in English and then in Urdu and being in awe of him – to honour both aspects of himself so publicly to me felt brave. Today means a lot 💙🏴 pic.twitter.com/2CbeqCoL61
— Miss H Kaur (@MissHKaur1) March 27, 2023
He also shared a photo of his family breaking their fast during iftar and praying in the First Minister’s official residence, Bute House; portraying and promoting his religious identity, a move that garnered both appreciation and scathing criticism.
My family and I spending our first night in Bute House after today’s parliamentary vote. A special moment leading my family in prayer in Bute House as is customary after breaking fast together. pic.twitter.com/yjPY1vpJMB
— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) March 28, 2023
He replaces Nicola Sturgeon as the First Minister. Tweeting in support, Sturgeon stated that she ‘proudly’ voted for Yousaf to take her place.
Just signed my formal letter of resignation and departed Bute House for the final time.
Next stop @ScotParl to vote proudly for @HumzaYousaf as Scotland’s 6th First Minister.
From me – for now – thank you Scotland, for the privilege 🏴
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) March 28, 2023
For the first time in history, the United Kingdom has leaders of South Asian descent governing them;; an interesting twist of history that has marvelled the internet and brought upon various points of discourse.
It is quite remarkable that 🇬🇧Britain, 🏴Scotland and 🇮🇪Ireland all now have leaders of South Asian descent.
And also 🇵🇹Portugal!
— Dave Keating (@DaveKeating) March 28, 2023
… for the first time in history, the British, Scottish, and Irish leaders are all of South Asian origin. Amazing l hailing from none other Pakistan and India heads of Scotland and Britain will also be discussing secession .. woa
— Marwan (@marwanbishara) March 29, 2023
Wait, I just realised that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is British Punjabi Indian. Meanwhile, Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf is Scottish Punjabi Pakistani.
Pakistan broke away from India. Scotland wants to be independent from the UK. What a coincidence!!!!
— Jecon Dreisbach (@jecondraysbak) March 28, 2023
Providing historical context mixed with amusement, Twitter user Temba B. Hove penned, ” Oh! The Irony: Humza Yousaf (Scotland), of Pakistan heritage, may be negotiating with Rishi Sunak (Britain), of Indian heritage, for the partition of the United Kingdom! Overseeing this may be King Charles III, the great nephew of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India! ”
Oh! The Irony: Humza Yousaf (Scotland), of Pakistan heritage, may be negotiating with Rishi Sunak (Britain), of Indian heritage, for the partition of the United Kingdom!
Overseeing this may be King Charles III, the great nephew of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India!
— Temba B. Hove (@BigTimmz) March 27, 2023
South Asian Twitter users, seeing speculations of independence as ‘karma or revenge’ from their former colonisers as history comes back in full swing.
Pakistan-origin Humza Yousaf becomes Scotland’s 1st Muslim leader, vows to revive independence
England PM – Rishi Sunak
Scotland PM – Humza Yousaf
India VS Pak. Life has come full circle for the biggest colonialism and that too in just 75+ years. Game on… pic.twitter.com/zUIZNRPheO
— Umair Ali jatt512 (@Umairalijatt512) March 29, 2023
Tweeting a picture of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi, Journalist Naila Inayat captioned it as ‘ Rishi Sunak, Humza Yousaf – 2023.’
What really makes his accession to the position fascinating is not just his Pakistani heritage, but the fact that his gradfather Abdul Ghani was a prominent freedom fighter during the Pakistan Movement which subsequently led to the creation of Pakistan in 1947; his grandfather’s role in championing Pakistan’s creation has further heightened hopes and in some cases fears of an independent Scotland.
Not everyone was thrilled at the outcome, the other side of the Twitter diaspora brandished racism, with various accounts tweeting how Yousaf’s new position is an affront to the values held by the Scottish people.
Scotland’s new First Minister Humza Yousaf posing with the Great Seal of Scotland while wearing traditional Pakistani dress. Words fail us! pic.twitter.com/10OFYH5SIB
— UK Justice Forum 🇬🇧 Latest Video News Updates! (@Justice_forum) March 29, 2023
The letters page is unanimous.
Humza Yousaf as First Minister is going to be an unmitigated disaster.
— Agent P🏴🇬🇧 (@AgentP22) March 29, 2023
Whatever side of the discourse one may be, one thing is clear and that it is interesting how the tables have turned.