05/11/2010, 00.00
BANGLADESH - GB
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For the first time a Bangladeshi woman in British Parliament

by William Gomes
Rushanara Ali, a 35 year-old Muslim, won the seat in the constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow in east London. The woman was born in Bangladesh and moved to England at the age of 7. Graduated at Oxford, she worked in the social outreach and published articles on political and social issues.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - A British citizen of Bangladeshi origin has won - for the first time in history - a seat in Parliament. Rushanara Ali, a 35 year-old Muslim, was elected from the ranks of the Labour Party, led by outgoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and  won the seat in the constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow in east London. The woman beat Abjol Miah, Respect Party candidate and his cousin Ajmal Masroor, the Liberal Democrat candidate.

The entire community of Bangladeshi immigrants in the capital celebrated the success of Rushanara Ali, capping the long-awaited dream of seeing their own elected representative in the House of Commons, the lower house of the United Kingdom. Scenes of joy and jubilation were registered also in Bangladesh, where the news of her election  captured the headlines and the public attention in the country.

Ayesha a Muslim girl in Dhaka, explains to AsiaNews that they are "very proud that a Muslim [Bangladesh] sits in Parliament" and it is a dream come true "for two million Bangladeshis around the world."

It should be emphasized that all major factions in the running of the constituency - Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dem, along with the Respect Party, which won the seat in previous votes - have proposed candidates of Bangladeshi origin and Muslim faith. The 35 year-old Oxford graduate won 21,748 votes, 11 thousand more than  the Lib-dem challenger Ajmal Masroor, who got 10,210 preferences.

Rushanara Ali was born in Bangladesh in 1975 and moved at the age of 7 to Great Britain, settling with her family in the area east of London. Her father was a humble worker, but allowed his daughter - the first in the family - to attend the prestigious Oxford University, where she studied political science, economics and philosophy.

Since 2005 Ali has worked as an associate director at the Young Foundation in Bethnal Green, a group of experts engaged in social innovation and integration of migrants. The neo-parliamentarian published many articles on political and social issues in the main British media - The Guardian Magazine Prospetc and Progress Magazine - along with participation in the BBC's flagship programs.  

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