Updated Mar 28, 2023, 10:30am EDT

Who is Humza Yousaf, the 37-year-old serving as Scotland's first Muslim leader?

Humza Yousaf speaks as he is announced as the new Scottish National Party leader.
REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

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The News

The Scottish Parliament confirmed Humza Yousaf as the country's new leader on Tuesday, with the 37-year-old taking over as Scotland's first minister.

Yousaf is Scotland's first Muslim leader and the youngest person to lead the government. He replaces Nicola Sturgeon, who announced last month that she was stepping down after more than eight years as first minister.

A day earlier, the Scottish National Party, which has the most seats in the Parliament, elected Yousaf as its new leader.

Here's what you need to know about Yousaf.

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The Facts

  • Yousaf currently serves as Scotland's health secretary, and before that was the country's justice secretary. He made history as Scotland's first South Asian and first Muslim cabinet secretary.
  • He is a Glasgow native. His grandparents emigrated from Pakistan to Scotland in the 1960s, knowing "barely a word of English," Yousaf said after winning the election Monday. "They could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that their grandson would one day be on the cusp being the next first minister of Scotland."
  • He has said he wants Scotland to be its own republic and to return to the European Union, saying "Scotland is a European nation." In his victory speech he said, "The people of Scotland need independence now, more than ever before, and we will be the generation that delivers independence."
  • While being sworn into Parliament in 2016, he gave his oath of office first in English and then in Urdu, while wearing a kilt.
  • He is aligned with Sturgeon on a number of progressive policy stances, including support for same-sex marriage and additional protections for transgender people.
  • In 2021, he and his wife filed a complaint against a nursery, claiming it refused to give their 2-year-old daughter a spot because she has a Muslim-sounding name. They dropped the complaint earlier this year.

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