Maryam Eslamdoust reflects on perception of Iran as she is confirmed as new mayor of Camden
PUBLISHED: 17:32 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:32 16 May 2019
Vanessa Berberian 2019
Kilburn councillor Maryam Eslamdoust became the first Iranian-born woman to be elected to public office in Britain last night, as she was confirmed as the new mayor of Camden.
During her acceptance speech, she said becoming mayor was a "big step" in being accepted in Camden as an Iranian-born woman.
She said: "Like many other minorities in our borough, it can be hard being Iranian. It can be hard to be accepted for who you are, to get on in life, or not to be judged by prejudices."
She also spoke about people's perception of Iran, in a time of "intense danger" in the geopolitics of the Middle East.
"At such time of danger it would be wrong not to speak up in the vein of Camden's proud tradition of peace activism.
"I say this to those who think we Iranians are warlike people. We are not. We are proud people but we are scarred by the memories of millions of our citizens killed by the Iran-Iraq war. Iranians do not want war," she said.
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Cllr Eslamdoust was born in Tehran, and moved to London as a child. She has been a Labour councillor in Kilburn since 2010.
Her consort will be her husband and fellow Kilburn councillor Thomas Gardiner. She is eight months pregnant with their first child, and will be the first mayor in the borough's history to give birth in office.
Both work in the upper echelons of the Labour Party. As well as Cllr Gardiner, and their unborn baby, another of her consorts will be Laura Murray, who is the party's head of complaints.
Cllr Eslamdoust's chosen charity will be Solace Women's Aid. At the meeting in the Crowndale Centre, departing mayor Jenny Headlam-Wells confirmed she had raised £90,000 for the Camden Music Trust from her fundraising over the last year.
Solace provides life-saving support to more than 16,000 women and children in London every year. They run 37 refuge and accommodation properties in the capital, and 139 women and children lived in their Camden refuges last year.
Cllr Eslamdoust said it was important to "stamp out domestic abuse and the most horrific effects of misogyny."
She also urged people to "never turn away" if they suspect somebody is a victim of domestic violence.