Sajjad Karim

Last updated

Sajjad Karim
Karim Sajjad 2014-02-03 3.jpg
Member of the European Parliament
for North West England
In office
10 June 2004   1 July 2019
Preceded by Jacqueline Foster
Succeeded by Jane Brophy
Personal details
Born
Sajjad Haider Karim

(1970-07-11) 11 July 1970 (age 48)
Blackburn, Lancashire, England
Political partyFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  UK
Conservative Party
Flag of Europe.svg  EU
Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe
Other political
affiliations
Children2
Alma mater
Website sajjadkarim.eu

Sajjad Haider Karim (born 11 July 1970) is a British politician. He served as a Member of the European Parliament for the North West England between 2004 and 2019. [1]

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Member of the European Parliament person who has been elected to the European Parliament

A Member of the European Parliament (MEP) is a person who has been elected to serve as a popular representative in the European Parliament.

North West England (European Parliament constituency) constituency of the European Parliament

North West England is a constituency of the European Parliament. From the 2009 elections it elects 8 MEPs using the D'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.

Contents

He is a solicitor by profession and has been the Legal Affairs Spokesman for the Conservatives in the European Parliament since 2009.

As well as having been a Spokesman to the WTO, Sajjad Chair's the European Parliament's South Asia Trade Monitoring Committee; South Caucasus Delegation and is rotating Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Conduct of Members. He also serves as the Vice-President of the European Parliament's Anti-Racism & Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) [2] and as Chair of its Working Group on Islamophobia.

In 2014 he was the European Conservatives and Reformists candidate for President of the European Parliament.

European Conservatives and Reformists political group in the European Parliament

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) is a Eurosceptic, anti-federalist political group in the European Parliament. The ECR is the parliamentary group of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) European political party, but also includes MEPs from four other European parties and thirteen MEPs without European party affiliation. The group focuses on reforming the European Union (EU) on the basis of Eurorealism as opposed to total rejection of the EU (anti-EU-ism).

Karim has developed extensive experience in Trade related issues including being the Parliamentary Rapporteur for an EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

In 2015, he was given the highest National Honour bestowed upon foreigners by Pakistan for his role in securing a British Government lead initiative delivering favourable market access for Pakistan to the EU, known as the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+). [3]

Karim has also delivered through Parliament, reforms which deliver exemptions for SMEs from regulation; new powers for national parliaments in EU decision-making and lead the EU Audit profession reforms after the financial crisis of 2007–2008.

Early life

Sajjad, a British Pakistani, was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, on 11 July 1970. [4] His family hails from Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab, Pakistan. He belongs to a Gujjar family of District Mandi baha uddin . Karim attended Walter Street County primary school Brierfield and thereafter Mansfield High School, Brierfield. He completed his A levels at Nelson and Colne College before studying Law at University. He attended the College of Law in Chester, studying Law. He qualified as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1997 and rose to becoming an equity partner very quickly, specialising in cases of serious fraud defence work.

Blackburn town in Lancashire, England

Blackburn is a town in Lancashire, England, north of the West Pennine Moors on the southern edge of the Ribble Valley, 9 miles (14 km) east of Preston and 20.9 miles (34 km) NNW of Manchester. Blackburn is bounded to the south by Darwen, with which it forms the unitary authority of Blackburn with Darwen; Blackburn is its administrative centre.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

Mandi Bahauddin City in Punjab, Pakistan

Mandi Bahauddin is a city in central Punjab, Pakistan. It is also the capital of Mandi Bahauddin District. The city is some 220 metres above the sea level and is located in central Punjab, between the rivers Jhelum and Chenab.

His earliest political activity started with leafleting at the age of seven for the then Conservative parliamentary candidate for Pendle. He later joined the Liberal Democrats in 1989. Karim was elected a member of Pendle Borough Council in 1994 and served until 2002 representing Brierfield ward.[ citation needed ]

Pendle (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1983 onwards

Pendle is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Andrew Stephenson, a Conservative. The constituency was newly created for the 1983 general election, being largely formed from the former Nelson and Colne Constituency.

Liberal Democrats (UK) Political party in the United Kingdom

The Liberal Democrats is a liberal political party in the United Kingdom. It is currently led by Vince Cable. The party has 12 Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, 96 members of the House of Lords, 16 members of the European Parliament, five Members of the Scottish Parliament and one member in both the Welsh Assembly and London Assembly. At the height of its influence, the party was in a coalition government with the Conservative Party from 2010 to 2015.

Pendle Borough Council is a district council in England, that has authority covering the borough of Pendle in Lancashire.

Member of the European Parliament, 2004–present

Karim was elected to represent North West England in 2004 as a Liberal Democrat. On 26 November 2007 he joined the Conservative Party and was re-elected to the European Parliament in June 2009. In May 2014 he was re-elected to serve a third term.

He is interested in human rights issues, including child labour and the civil liberties of EU citizens in the War on Terror. He led the successful European Union contribution to the campaign for the commutation of the death penalty of British man, Mirza Tahir Hussain, who had spent half of his life on death row in Pakistan, for a crime he maintains he did not commit.

Karim has spoken out on a number of key human rights issues and in particular, campaigns for self-determination for Kashmir. He has hosted a number of conferences in the European Parliament on the issue. [5] In 2013 he brought together Syrian opposition groups to try encourage a co-hesive strategy to the current regime. He has also been active on the issue of democracy in Egypt and civil rights in Turkey.

On 26 November 2008, whilst visiting India as part of a European Parliament Committee on International Trade delegation (ahead of an EU-India summit), he was caught up in the Mumbai attacks in the lobby of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel. [6] Speaking to the Associated Press while holed up in the hotel's restaurant shortly after the terrorists gained control of the hotel, Sajjad said "I was in the main lobby and there was all of a sudden a lot of firing outside...all of a sudden another gunmen appeared in front of us, carrying machine gun-type weapons. And he just started firing at us ... I just turned and ran in the opposite direction." [7]

In December 2009, he was appointed as the Legal Affairs Spokesperson for the Conservative Group in the European Parliament. He was reappointed to this front bench position in June 2014 following the European Elections in May. As well as serving as a full member of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), Sajjad was previously a substitute member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee and the Civil Liberties and the Justice and Home Affairs Committee. He also previously served as a member of the Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries and on the Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean. [8]

More recently as Legal Affairs Spokesperson, he has worked towards completing the Digital Single Market and Copyright Reform, which will have important and far-reaching benefits for international trade partners, consistently delivering time after time by enhancing the competitiveness of European businesses and facilitating international trade.

Karim has championed the role played by the EU in developing and facilitating international trade between the EU and the wider world, and has been involved in the development of the EU-India Free Trade Agreement within the European Parliament. [9] He was the European Parliament's rapporteur on the free trade agreement with India and has authored two trade-related European Parliament Reports on EU-India Trade Relations and the EU-India FTA. [10]

Both reports maintain the need for human rights to be integral in any trade related agreement that the EU has with another country.

Karim has spent a considerable amount of his time working towards a reduction in EU regulations and red tape on businesses, particularly SMEs. In October 2011 he was appointed as the European Parliament rapporteur on a new report that will look at improving the law-making process across the EU and reducing the legislative burden. [11]

In July 2011, the English Defence League staged an anti-Islamic protest outside his family home near Burnley, allegedly regarding new EU proposals on the labelling of Halal meat.[ verification needed ] [12] The group have targeted him despite not having much to do with either Saudi Arabia or British Bangladeshis.[ clarification needed ]

In February 2012, Karim was one of five MEPs to be appointed to a panel to police the new code of conduct rules that will govern the behaviour of MEPs. He is the only British MEP to serve on this committee. The Advisory Committee provides guidance to MEPs and advises the Parliament's President on what steps to take in the event of alleged breaches of the code. [13] In February 2014 he was appointed Chairman of the Advisory Committee by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

After the European elections in 2014, he was selected as the European Conservative and Reformist Group Parliament Presidential candidate. The incumbent Martin Schultz retained his position as President, with Karim coming second out of four candidates, widely acknowledged that he secured support from MEPs right across the house beyond his own group.

Karim made headline news in December 2012 when he played an instrumental role in securing the return of six-year-old Atiya Anjum-Wilkinson to UK from Pakistan following abduction by her father. Over several weeks he worked closely with Greater Manchester Police and the Pakistani authorities and Atiya was returned safely to her mother during the Christmas holidays. [14]

In December 2013, the European Parliament voted to approve a concessionary trade status for Pakistan, GSP+. The preferential trade package for Pakistan's exports to EU countries came into force in January 2014. He steered the International Trade Committee to approve the beneficial trade tariff. [15]

From 2014-2019, Karim has steered the European Parliament’s relations with the South Caucasus as Chair of the region’s delegation, successfully contributing to the establishment of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with Armenia and its GSP+ trading regime. He has helped finalise the negotiations on a new comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan and has been monitoring & guiding the implementation of the Association Agreement with Georgia, which includes a Deep & Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement component.

As Vice-Chair of ARDI [16] and as Chair of its Working group on Islamophobia, Karim has stood firm in defending the rights of minorities and Muslims, challenging an ever-increasing xenophobic and Islamophobic environment. He has held multiple events within the European Parliament aimed at raising awareness of the issue of Islamophobia. In 2018, the European Parliament - as part of its 2019 election campaign - displayed a poster on the Simone Veil Agora, featuring a photo of an ordinary Muslim family, captioned with ‘We need to work together to challenge migration’. [17] Sajjad was the only MEP who personally wrote to President Tajani challenging the poster, raising the issue in Plenary and eventually compelling the President to take down the Islamophobic poster. [18]

Recognition

Karim was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for the University of Management and Technology in Lahore for his work in securing the GSP+ deal and for services to the British Pakistani community. [19]

In August 2014 he was awarded the Sitara-i-qaid-i-Azam, Pakistan's highest national honour to non-Pakistanis, for his services to strengthen Pakistan/UK and Pakistan/EU relations. [20] Sajjad was presented with the award in March 2015 by Pakistan President, Mamnoon Hussain, at a ceremony in Islamabad.

In January 2015, he was nominated for the Politician of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards. [21]

See also

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References

  1. "Sajjad Karim MEP - 13 years standing up for the North West". www.sajjadkarim.eu.
  2. "Home". www.ardi-ep.eu. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  3. "Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) - Trade - European Commission". ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  4. "North West MEP Sajjad Karim safe after fleeing Mumbai gunmen". Lancashire Telegraph.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. "At least 78 dead in Mumbai 'terror attacks'". 26 November 2008.
  7. "Associated Press: Gunmen kill at least 78 in attacks across Mumbai".
  8. "Sajjad KARIM - Home - MEPs - European Parliament". www.europarl.europa.eu.
  9. "Commitment to EU-India FTA". Archived from the original on 16 March 2012.
  10. "Sajjad Biography". Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
  11. "Sajjad appointed to report on better law-making". Archived from the original on 3 January 2013.
  12. "MEP Sajjad Karim 'threatened' over EDL protest by home". 5 July 2011 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  13. "Sajjad appointed to new panel". Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
  14. "Atiya Anjum-Wilkinson being returned from Pakistan". BBC News. 28 December 2012.
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. "Home". www.ardi-ep.eu. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  17. "EXCLUSIVE: EU told to scrap 'Islamophobic' election advert by British MEP". uk.finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  18. "European parliament to remove 'Islamophobic' election advert". uk.finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  21. "British Muslim Awards 2015 finalists unveiled". Asian Image. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.