New mayor of Haringey takes vows in Turkish, Kurdish and English

Mayor of Haringey Councillor Ali Ozbek. Photo: Polly Hancock

Mayor of Haringey Councillor Ali Ozbek. Photo: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Haringey appointed its first mayor of Kurdish Alevi descent at a ceremony boosted with overseas family and the Turkish press on Monday.

Cllr Ali Gul Ozbek grew up in Turkey and campaigned for Christian and Jewish minorities, as well as Syrian refugees and trapped residents of Kobani.

He trained as a pharmacist in England, supporting himself with kebab shop work.

In a moving speech in Turkish, Kurdish and English, Cllr Ozbek accepted the mayoralty.

He said: “I’m excited to be the mayor of this great borough. Thank you for your support.”

And he added: “When my family came here, we were searching for a place that shared our values. We are constantly amazed by the wonderful people in our borough.”

The mayor supported the London Kurdish Film Festival.

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Cllr Ozbek announced his official charity will be the Lymphoma Cancer Association, supporting people affected by lymphatic cancer.

His brother was helped by the charity when he was diagnosed with the condition.

Cllr Ozbek owns a pharmacy and has been a councillor since 2014.