Humza Yousaf Biography
Humza Yousaf was born Humza Haroon Yousaf in Scotland on 7 April 1985 to a Pakistani father and Kenyan mother. Yousaf grandparents had moved to the country back in 1962 from Mian Channu in Punjab, Pakistan. Yousaf’s mother, also of South Asian descent, emigrated to Scotland from Kenya.
Yousaf was educated at Hutchesons’ Grammar School and the University of Glasgow, graduating with a degree in Politics. He is also an alumnus of the US State Department’s prestigious International Visitor Learning Programme.
He went on to work in the Scottish Parliament as an aide to the late Bashir Ahmad MSP. He was elected as an MSP for the Glasgow region in May 2011, and to the constituency of Glasgow Pollok since 2016.
Humza Yousaf has held a number of ministerial positions in the Scottish Government since 2012, and joined cabinet in June 2018 as Cabinet Secretary for Justice. He was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care in May 2021.
Humza Yousaf Life in Politics
Humza Yousaf was elected as an MSP in 2011. At 26, he was the youngest MSP to enter Holyrood at the time. When appointed minister for external affairs and international development in 2012, he became the first non-white and Muslim minister in Holyrood.
In 2016, when Nicola Sturgeon was running the show, Mr Yousaf was named transport minister. Following a cabinet reshuffle in 2018, he was then promoted to justice secretary before taking on the mantle of health secretary in 2021.
In Humza Yousaf’s Own Words:
“It is the honour of my life to represent the people of Glasgow Pollok. The constituency is incredibly diverse, and each community I represent is unique.”
“I have often been asked why I stood for election. It was never something I planned. Although I studied Politics at Glasgow University, I always thought I would do political research or some other work that involved being in the background – where I was always most comfortable. And that is where I started my political career as the Office Manager for Bashir Ahmad MSP, the first ethnic minority MSP to be elected to the Scottish Parliament.”
“Sadly, Bashir passed away mid-way through his term in 2009. I was devastated at his sudden passing, he was a mentor of mine as well as a good family friend who I had known since birth.”
“After he passed away, I continued to work for various MSPs in the Scottish Parliament including Anne McLaughlin MSP and Nicola Sturgeon.”
“In the run up to the 2011 elections I was asked by many people within the SNP to consider standing for election. In the end it was an easy decision. I had spent my whole life engaged in public service. As a young boy I was encouraged by my parents to be involved in my community. I volunteered for Community Radio for 12 years and volunteered as the Media Spokesperson for the International Development charity Islamic Relief. During my University years, I launched an initiative providing food packages for asylum seekers in Glasgow. I was also quite active in the campaign against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.”
“So standing for election in 2011 in my home City of Glasgow seemed a no brainer. I was elected and threw myself into campaigns where I hoped to make a difference, for example campaigning for an opt-out Organ Donor system, which I am now pleased is in place.”
“I was appointed to the Scottish Government in 2012 as the Minister for External Affairs and International Development. It was a moment of great pride for me and my family, at the time I was the youngest person to be appointed to the Scottish Government and the first ethnic minority to be appointed.”
“It was the most humbling post in Government I have ever had. I saw some of the worst poverty in the world, luckily I was in a position to help, in a small way, through the Scottish Government’s International Development Fund that I was in-charge of.”
“I played an active role in the 2014 Scottish Independence Campaign as a Senior Organiser in Glasgow for the SNP. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried a few tears at the result of the 2014 referendum, the 19th September is not a day I will forget easily. However, it only strengthened my resolve to campaign even harder for an independent Scotland.”
“In 2016, I was honoured to have been elected to the Glasgow Pollok constituency. I was pleased to be able to make a bit of history as the first ethnic minority to win a constituency seat to the Scottish Parliament. I won the election with a majority of 6,482 and it was the first time the SNP had won this seat that Labour had held since the advent of Devolution.”
“First Minister Nicola Sturgeon appointed me to Government as her Transport Secretary in 2016. There were quite a few memorable moments! I don’t think I will ever forget the nights I spent in our Control Room during the Beast from the East in 2018 – I think my sleeping bag is still there!”
“In 2018 the First Minister promoted me to her Cabinet as her Justice Secretary. I am proud to serve as the first ethnic minority member of the Cabinet since Devolution began. Being Justice Secretary is an extremely rewarding but challenging role. From Prisons to Policing, from Courts to Community Payback Orders, there is a lot to keep me busy – and that was before the global pandemic hit us. Our response to Covid is what keeps me busy day and night, it is something I hope we never have to deal with again.”
“After the 2021 Election, The First Minister asked me to stay in her Cabinet as her Health Secretary. I am humbled and honoured to take on this vital role. I am committed to working constructively with Opposition and stakeholders in the national interest, to focus on continuing our fight against coronavirus, our national recovery plan, remobilising the NHS, take the first steps to establishing a National Care Service and ensure our hardworking NHS staff are given the pay rise they deserve.”
Announcing His Bid to Run for First Minister:
“You’ve got to put yourself forward if you think you’re the best person for the job. And I do. This is the top job in the country, and it needs somebody who has experience.”
During his campaign, Mr Yousaf pledged to “work tirelessly” to improve the rights of women and girls.
He also vowed to give youngsters from deprived backgrounds free football club memberships and would look at increasing the Scottish child payment – a £25 per week payout to the country’s poorest families with children under 16
He said: “The benefit of being first minister is you get to choose what your priorities are.
“I would want to see us continue to increase that in order to make sure that it’s helping the poorest and the most vulnerable in our society.”
Humza Yousaf Becomes New SNP Leader
Humza Yousaf Becomes new SNP leader, beating Kate Forbes and Ash Regan. The Health Secretary was confirmed as the winner of the contest and Nicola Sturgeon’s replacement at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on Monday after the ballot closed at midday.
Humza Yousaf won by 52% to 48% over Kate Forbes after Ash Regan was eliminated and her second preference votes were redistributed.
In a speech after his victory was announced, Yousaf pledged to “dedicate every waking moment” to serving the people of Scotland.
He will be the first person from an ethnic minority background to be first minister and the first Muslim to lead the country – as well as the youngest ever first minister.
Outgoing First Minister Sturgeon on Twitter was among those to congratulate Yousaf on his victory: “I pay tribute to all 3 candidates for @theSNP leadership for rising to the challenge. Most of all I congratulate @HumzaYousaf and wish him every success.
“He will be an outstanding leader & First Minister and I could not be prouder to have him succeed me.”
Humza Yousaf Ethnicity
Humza Yousaf is the son of Pakistani immigrants, Muzaffar Yousaf and Shaaista Bhutta, who settled in Scotland in the 1960s.
Humza Yousaf Education
Humza Yousaf was educated at the independent day school Hutchesons’ Grammar School. Located in Glasgow, Hutchesons’ was founded in 1641 and was originally a boys school, though nowadays welcomes boy and girl pupils from ages three to 18.
The school’s alumni are known as Old Hutchesonians, and include notable names such as TV presenter Carole Smillie and leader of the Scottish Labour Party Anas Sarwar.
Yousaf then went on to study politics at the University of Glasgow sometime in the mid 2000s.
Humza Yousaf Parents
Humza Yousaf is the son of Muzaffar Yousaf and Shaaista Bhutta.
Humza Yousaf Wife
She was born in Scotland but has a Palestinian father. She has relatives in Gaza and in 2021 she told how she was in constant contact with her brother Mohammed, his wife Duas and their three children amid conflict in the region.
Mr Yousaf married Nadia El-Nakla in 2019. A trained psychotherapist, Ms El-Nakla was elected as an SNP councillor for Dundee in 2022. She represents the City West ward at the council while the family lives in the upmarket suburb of Broughty Ferry just within the Dundee city boundary, despite Mr Yousaf being the MSP for Glasgow Pollok.
In Humza Yousaf’s Own Words:
“On a more personal level, I am married to the woman of my dreams (she told me to write that, but it just happens to be true!). Nadia and I have two children, Maya is my step-daughter and Amal was born in 2019, so it is fair to say we have our hands full.”
“I love my family and my life revolves around them.”
Where Does Humza Yousaf Live
El-Nakla and Humza Yousaf have one child together while Ms El-Nakla has a child from a previous relationship. El-Nakla lives with Yousaf in Broughty Ferry, a suburb a few miles east of Dundee.
Humza Yousaf Hobbies
“I am a huge foodie and love to try new places to eat, I am a football fan, my playing days are very much over but that doesn’t stop me from shouting at the TV when my team (Celtic) are playing.”
“Although I sold my motorcycle a number of years ago (a beautiful Yamaha Fazer 600) I still consider myself a biker, and I think it won’t be long until I buy a new one (hopefully my mum isn’t reading this).”
– Humza Yousaf Biography and Profile
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