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UK’s first Muslim judge Khurshid Drabu dies

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A LEADING community figure who became the UK’s first Muslim judge has died after suffering a heart attack.

Judge Khurshid Drabu, who lived in Winchester, was taken to Southampton General Hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit but doctors were unable to save the 72-year-old.

His funeral was held at Southampton Medina Mosque in Compton Walk this morning and was attended by about 400 mourners.

Judge Drabu arrived in England in November 1971 with just £3 in his pocket. But with an infectious determination, changed attitudes within the country for the better through his work within the community.

He became a leading immigration expert with landmark victories.

Throughout his remarkable career he became one of the most influential and respected Muslims in the UK.

He headed the government-funded Immigrants Advisory Service, became head of the Commission for Racial Equality’s legal and complaints department winning high profile cases in racial discrimination and in 1996 he made history by becoming the first Muslim to become a judge in the UK.

Judge Drabu was also a former chairman and member of the managing board at Southampton Medina Mosque.

He was also an honorary advisor to the Ministry of Defence on Muslim affairs.

After his appointment the number of Muslims in the armed forces rose from 25 to nearly 800 thanks to policies he worked to put in place.

His work building bridges between communities earned him a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2010.

In an interview three years later he said: “My inspiration for putting in long hours in community work is the future of my children and grandchildren and our nation as a whole.

“I just hope one day we will live in a society where there is a better understanding of each other. That is all I seek really.”

Mohammed Shafiq, chief Executive, Ramadhan Foundation said: “It’s with great sadness I learned of the death of Judge Khurshid Drabu. My deepest condolences and prayers to his family, friends and community.

“The Ramadhan Foundation would like to recognise Judge Drabu’s unquiet contribution to building the British Muslim community. From his humbling beginnings to make a lasting impression on National life Judge Drabu made time for others.

“His legacy will be the national Muslim organisations he set up and supported, the Mosques he supported and the campaigns he championed. He may have gone but his legacy of Work will continue for generations to come. When the history of the British Muslim community is written, Judge Drabu and his work will be at the heart of that history.

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