Cultural relations consultant, imam

Ajmal Masroor, 33

In my college days at Hammersmith, where I studied politics and Arabic, I founded an Islamic society. Before that there was nothing at the college for the Muslim community. Everything changed on 9/11. Extremists among Muslims were giving interviews so I went to the media and insisted they put on mainstream Muslims; I ended up doing the interviews myself.

I came to Britain from Bangladesh when I was one. At nine I went back because my father was afraid we would lose our identity as Muslims. But we returned when I was 13. I experienced racism in the East End of London. There were only two non-white families in the area. I remember bricks being thrown at our doors and our car windows being broken.

I could have become an angry and destructive person. I am lucky I have been able to change the negative experience to go forward fighting those prejudices.

My wife is Hungarian and she has accepted Islam. Our children will inherit a true fusion of culture - Hungarian, Bangladeshi, British, Muslim.

I lead Friday prayers in four mosques across London in rotation. I am called an unconventional imam because I don't get paid, and my sermons are in English.

My aim now is to go into politics. I am a prospective parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems. Obviously I am disillusioned with Labour.


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Ajmal Masroor, 33

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 00.02 GMT on Tuesday 30 November 2004. It was last updated at 00.02 GMT on Tuesday 30 November 2004.

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