Nazir Ahmed, Baron Ahmed (born 1958) is a Labour member of the House of Lords. In 1998 he was made Britain's second Muslim peer (the first being the 3rd Baron Stanley of Alderley (1827–1903)) by being raised to the peerage as Baron Ahmed, of Rotherham in the County of South Yorkshire.
Ahmed has three children and two grandchildren and continues to live in Rotherham.
In 1998 Ahmed was appointed to the House of Lords and took his oath on the Qur'an. He was also one of the youngest peers to achieve this position at the age of 40. As a Muslim peer, much of his activities relate to the Muslim community, both at home and internationally. Ahmed led one of the first delegations on behalf of the British Government on the Muslim pilgrimage of the Hajj, to Saudi Arabia and has advocated legislation against religious discrimination, international terrorism and forced marriages.
At home, Ahmed speaks on wider equality issues, and has spoken several times on issues of race, religion and gender. He is seen as one of the leaders of the Muslim community and has tried to calm tensions following the aftermath of September 11.
In August 2006 he was a signatory to an open letter to Tony Blair, the Prime Minster, criticising the UK's foreign policy.. In 2007 he responded to the award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie by claiming he was appalled, stating that Rushdie had 'blood on his hands'.
In September 2007, Ahmed flew to Islamabad with Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a bid to end Sharif's exile from the country by military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who had ousted him in a coup d'etat. Ahmed negotiated with police to allow Sharif to enter the airport terminal and pass through customs, but Sharif was arrested later, and deported.
Born in the region, Ahmed has a personal interest in seeing a peaceful resolve to the ongoing bloody dispute in Kashmir and seeks international mediation to achieve this. As well as being an active figure in the Indian Subcontinent, he has worked on the plight of Muslims around the world ranging from the collapse of former Yugoslavia, to the Chechens and Palestinians. He has been on many delegations to the Arab world, the US, Eastern Europe, Africa, the former states of the USSR and the Far East, meeting with heads of state to discuss their respective problems and how he may be able to assist them.
Ahmed helps with various charitable causes and is on the board of several organisations from local groups such as his position as President of South Yorkshire Victim Support, to international bodies such as his board membership on the SAARC Foundation.
Lord Ahmed was among the founders of The World Forum, an organization set up to promote world peace in the after math of the 9/11 with an effort to build briges of understanding between The Muslim World and the West by reviving a tradition of Dialogue between people, cultures and civilizations based on tolerance. (http://www.theworldforum.com)
On July 25 2005 Lord Ahmed, while interviewing with Robert Siegel on National Public Radio said that the suicide bombers of 7/7 had an "identity crisis" and, that "unfortunately, our imams and mosques have not been able to communicate the true message of Islam in the language that these young people can understand. Christopher Orlet of The American Spectator did not agree with Lord Ahmed's "identity crisis." He said, "That's not an identity crisis, Lord Ahmed, that's religious psychopathy. That's a bloodthirstiness that makes Dracula look like a teetotaler.
Lord Ahmed did acknowledge, "the community leaders and religious leaders, who have kept very close contacts with South Asia and the Middle East rather than keeping a good contact with the British society where we live.
On 30th November 2006, the New Statesman 'revealed' that Lord Ahmed campaigned against his fellow Muslim and Labour parliamentarian Shahid Malik during the Dewsbury election in 2005. Ahmed instead backed Sayeeda Warsi, vice-chair of the Conservative Party, a personal friend. According to the New Statesman's report, Warsi "welcomed Lord Ahmed's support". The New Statesman confirmed that Lord Ahmed denies supporting the Conservative Party in any way.
On June 19th 2007 Lord Ahmed criticised the honouring of Salman Rushdie with a knighthood because of what Lord Ahmed saw as Rushdie's offensiveness to Islam. He was reported to have said, "It's hypocrisy by Tony Blair who two weeks ago was talking about building bridges to mainstream Muslims, and then he's honouring a man who has insulted the British public and been divisive in community relations." "This man not only provoked violence around the world because of his writings, but there were many people who were killed around the world. Forgiving and forgetting is one thing, but honouring the man who has blood on his hands, sort of, because of what he did, I think is going a bit too far." He also said on BBC Radio 4's PM programme that he had been appalled by the award to a man he accused of having 'blood on his hands'.
In November 2007 Ahmed was involved in a diplomatic effort to secure the release of Gillian Gibbons from custody in Sudan. The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, allowed her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Lord Ahmed, from Britain's ruling Labour Party, and Baroness Warsi, an opposition Conservative, visited Khartoum and had a meeting with the President of Sudan. Following this the President pardoned Ms Gibbons and she was allowed to return to the UK.