First Muslim Serjeant at Arms to lay down his sword next month
The first Muslim Serjeant at Arms is set to lay down his sword after three-and-a-half years in the top parliamentary security job.
Mohammed El-Hajji, known as Kamal, carries the House of Commons mace during the Speaker’s procession and into the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament.
But at the age of 60, the married martial arts expert – a recipient of the British Empire Medal – has decided to retire to spend more time with his three young children.
Moroccan-born Kamal made history in 2016 when he became the first person from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background to hold the post.
Commons Speaker John Bercow said Kamal, who will step down on Wednesday July 31, had been “a breath of fresh air” and would be “sorely missed”.
Mr Bercow said: “He is a natural peacemaker and a people-pleaser, who makes visitors here feel very welcome.
“He is passionate about Parliament, always keen to serve, to solve problems and to facilitate the smooth running of the House. He is a fine public servant.
“In the three years that he has worked in the House, I have come to know Kamal well, to enjoy his friendship and to respect his loyalty.”
Speaker’s Chaplain Rose Hudson-Wilkin said Kamal was “a gentle giant” who always looked for the best in others.
She said: “He is not a confrontational person, but one who prefers to listen and then find a solution that keeps everyone on-board.
“He has a quiet determination and is truly interested in and cares about those around him.
“I will personally miss him and wish him and his family every blessing in his future endeavours.”
Valerie Vaz, shadow leader of the House of Commons, added: “Kamal’s genial manner will be missed, specially by MPs who have had the pleasure of working closely with him on a daily basis.”