By Alicia Buller
Magic Magid is Sheffield's first Green, Muslim and youngest-elected Lord Mayor
Kitted out in a reverse-baseball cap and bottle-green Doc Martens, Magid Magid’s urban cool jars with the puffy ceremony and tradition of Sheffield’s City Hall.
But then Magid – or ‘Magic Magid’ as fans know him – is not your average Lord Mayor.
He eschews fusty mayoral traditions with aplomb. Magid recently banned US President Donald Trump from setting foot in the UK city of Sheffield, dubbing the leader of the free world a ‘wasteman’ while posing in a sombrero in solidarity with Mexicans.
“Nope. Trump is still not allowed in Sheffield – he’s a misogynist and a racist. He’s against the diversity we stand for as a city,” Magid says, leaning back, one knee casually propped up on his magisterial Chesterfield sofa.
His huge gold mayoral chain just about serves as a reminder that Magid is not, in fact, a popstar that I’m just not cool enough to know about.
Described as ‘smoking hot’ by UK broadsheet newspapers, this Lord Mayor certainly knows how to create a media stir.
Magid says: “I find it funny… but it comes down to the fact that I’m engaging with a younger audience and a lot of my predecessors might not have been doing that. I try to use social media to communicate with people.”
Magid’s unique style and flair has ruffled a few feathers in the local community with some voters setting up online petitions calling his dress sense ‘a disgrace to tradition’.
“Yeah, I get petitions, letters and all sorts of things. They don’t like the fact I’m breaking tradition, whatever tradition is,” he says.
“They say I don’t dress properly but there is no dress code for it. Lots of people wrap up their xenophobia and racism under the guise of tradition. I don’t care.”
The Lord Mayor fled war-torn Somalia with his family when he was just five-years-old. When he came to Sheffield he couldn’t speak a word of English. Magid eventually went on to study marine biology at Hull University and became involved in activism.
At 28-years-old, ‘Magic Magid’ is Sheffield's first Green, Muslim and youngest-elected Lord Mayor. He was elected as a councillor for Broomhill and Sharrow Vale in 2016, and has previously been the deputy Lord Mayor for a year.
Today Magid remains unashamedly himself – even if that means ripping up the rulebook.
He says: “Did I ever think I’d be here in this office? No, definitely not. It’s not something I envisioned or had ambitions for in all honesty. I went into politics because I wanted voices to be heard that weren’t being heard. I think it comes down the idea I wanted to make my small part of the world a bit better. I kept pushing and taking opportunities to do so.”
If Magid ruled the world for a day, he says he would make education free for all and free for life. He would also tackle ‘fossil fuel issues’ and make sure he empowered the right people to get into leadership positions.
“A lot of people want to be leaders but they don’t believe they have power to make a difference,” he says. “It is my responsibility and that of others to really support them and give them a helping hand... to give them opportunities that I didn’t necessarily have – I think that’s really important.”
Magid says education is a big factor in changing Sheffield, the UK and the world.
“It’s about getting people getting together and celebrating our differences. It’s also about realising that we’ve got more in common than what separates us. We all have the same troubles.
“It’s important to stamp out racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. They all come from the same tree of hate. We need to send a message that it won’t be tolerated.”
Magid says he is focused on empowering the city’s young people.
“I want to empower young people to get involved in their community and get involved in civic life.
“I see my role as a empowering people through workshops to take the lead in stuff that they are passionate about so they can make a difference to our city.”
The Lord Mayor also has a love of culture, which he wants to incubate and promote in Sheffield – starting with the recent appointment of the city’s first Poet Laureate.
Professing to write his own short stories and music, Magid wants to champion Sheffield’s diversity through the arts.
“No matter where we are from, no matter our background and religion, we can all get together and appreciate art,” he says.
And with that, Britain’s coolest Lord Mayor says he has to leave because he is off to walk a lady down the aisle for a couple’s civil ceremony.
“They asked me to walk with them with my gold chain on,” he says, “It will be nice to share that special moment with them.”
This is likely just one more first in a list of many more to come.