Canada gets its first Muslim mayor

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 20, 2010 07:50 hrs

Calgary, Oct 20 (IANS) Canada has created history by electing its first Muslim mayor.

Naheed Nenshi, a Harvard-educated Ismaili Muslim, defeated two white candidates to become the mayor of Calgary Monday night.

A Conservative (right-wing) stronghold in Canada, Calgary is also the hometown of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Interestingly, the 38-year-old Nenshi defeated one of the candidates supported by the prime minister.

A jubilant Nenshi told his supporters after his victory, 'Today, Calgary is a different place than it was yesterday. It's a better place.

'And not because of me, but because of you. All of you. I want to thank all of the other candidates in this election for making politics in Calgary exciting again. I want to thank you all.''

A business professor and smart talker, Nenshi baffled energize his youth support base Obama-style by using new social media to usher what he called 'Purple Revolution.'

The prime minister's office congratulated the first non-white mayor of any major Canadian city.

'The Prime Minister congratulates Mr Nenshi on his victory in yesterday's municipal elections,'' a message from the Prime Minister's Office said.

'This is a very good development for Canada that someone from any minority community has become mayor of a major city in this country,'' said former Canadian health minister Ujjal Dosanjh who himself created history in February 2000 by becoming Canada's first non-white premier in British Columbia province.

Ismaili Muslims, most of whom came here from Uganda and Tanzania in the 1970s, are one of the most progressive immigrant communities in Canada.

Nenshi's victory is not the first 'first' to the credit of the community in this country.

In 1997, Rahim Jaffer also created history when he was elected as Canada's first Muslim MP from Edmonton at the age of 25.

Mobina Jaffer, another Ismaili, became Canada's first Muslim senator when she was appointed to the country's Upper House in 2001.