Sajjad Haider Karim, who is a British Pakistani, was born on 11 July 1970 in Blackburn, Lancashire. He is a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for North West England. Karim was the first British Muslim elected to the
Sajjad Haider Karim, who is a British Pakistani, was born on 11 July 1970 in Blackburn, Lancashire. He is a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for North West England. Karim was the first British Muslim elected to the European Parliament on 4 June 2004. He was re-elected in June 2009.
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 the College of Law in Chester. He qualified as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1997.
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. Sajjad was elected a member of Pendle Borough Council in 1994 and served until 2002 representing Brierfield ward.
Karim, who is the first British Pakistani Muslim elected to the European Parliament, was elected to represent the North West England in 2004 as a Liberal Democrat. On 26 November 2007 he re-joined the Conservative Party and was re-elected to the European Parliament in June 2009.
In his first term Karim served on the International Trade Committee, Committee of Judicial Affairs and Human Rights Committees and was a Member of the European Parliament's 'Committee of Investigation into alleged CIA extraordinary renditions and secret prisons' after having been the first European Parliamentarian to officially raise the matter. He was the European Legal Affairs Spokesperson and served as a Conservative whip. He was the European Parliamentary rapporteur for the EU-India Free Trade Agreement.
In 2005, he established the European Parliament Friends of Pakistan Group, which he continues to chair to present day. He is also a member of the Friends of India and Friends of Bangladesh Groups.
He is the Vice-President of the European Parliament's Equality and Diversity Intergroup and Co-Chair of the European Muslim Forum. He has focused on the rise of intolerance in Europe in recent years, notably the rise of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and growing support for the far-right political parties.
Karim 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.
In December 2009, Karim was appointed as the Legal Affairs Spokesperson for the Conservative Group in the European Parliament. As well as serving as a full member of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), Karim is a substitute on the Industry, Research and Energy Committee and a substitute member of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee. He is also currently a member of the delegations with the Mashreq countries and the Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Karim has championed the vital role played by the EU in developing and facilitating International trade between the EU and the wider world and has been a key player in the development of the EU-India Free Trade Agreement within the European Parliament. Karim 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 Free Trade Agreement.
Both reports maintain the need for human rights to be integral in any trade related agreement that the EU has with another country. Sajjad's persistent work to tackle child labour and ensure that it is recognised as an international trade issue, underlines his passion for those causes which interlink trade and human rights.
Karim continues to spend 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 reduce the legislative Burdon.
In February 2012, Karim was one of five MEPs to be appointed to a panel to police new code of conduct rules that will govern the behaviour of MEPs. The Advisory Committee will provide guidance to MEPs and advise the Parliament’s President on what steps to take in the event of alleged breaches of the code.
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. Speaking to the Associated Press while held up in the hotel's restaurant shortly after the terrorists gained control of the hotel, Karim said 'I was in the main lobby and there was all of a sudden a lot of firing outside. All of a sudden another gunman 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.'
In July 2011, the English Defence League staged an anti-Islamic protest outside Karim's house near Burnley allegedly regarding new EU proposals on the labelling of Halal meat.
Karim made headline news in December 2012 when he played an instrumental role in securing the return of 6 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.