Rabina Khan

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Rabina Khan
রবিনা খান
Leader of the People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets
In office
November 2016 – August 2018
Tower Hamlets London Borough Councillor
for Shadwell ward
In office
6 May 2010 – 9 May 2022
Preceded byMohammed Rashid
Succeeded byAna Miah
Personal details
Born (1972-09-15) 15 September 1972 (age 50)
Sylhet District, Bangladesh
Political partyLiberal Democrats (2018–present)
Other political
Labour (until 2010)
Independent (2010–2014)
Tower Hamlets First (2014–2015)
Independent (2015)
Tower Hamlets Independent Group (2015–2016)
People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets (2016–2018)
Aminur Rashid Khan
(m. 1992)
Residence(s)Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets, London, England
OccupationWriter, novelist, film producer, creative consultant, playwright, community worker

Rabina Khan (Bengali: রবিনা খান; born 15 September 1972) is a Bangladeshi-born British writer, politician, former councillor for Shadwell and Cabinet Member for Housing in Tower Hamlets Council, community worker and author of Ayesha's Rainbow. In 2015, she unsuccessfully contested the Tower Hamlets Mayoral Election. She was the leader of the People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets, but joined the Liberal Democrats on 29 August 2018.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Khan's father worked as a machine operator at Chatham Dockyards in Kent; he returned to Bangladesh to get married. Khan was born in Sylhet District, Bangladesh, and moved to England with her mother at the age of three.[4] Khan grew up in Rochester, Kent.[5] She is the eldest of five siblings, and has one brother and three sisters.[4]

In 1992, at the age of 19, after completing her A-levels, Khan had an arranged marriage with trainee teacher, Aminur Rashid Khan (born 1968), and moved to Tower Hamlets, London.[4][6] At around the age of 22, Khan began wearing a hijab.[4]

Community work[edit]

In 1991, Khan's first job was securing work experience placements for secondary school pupils.[5] Khan has since worked as a community regeneration worker[4] in the Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets in the East End of London.[7] She has worked for Tower Hamlets Council in the social and education sectors, and for government regeneration initiatives such as Bethnal Green City Challenge managing education and empowerment projects for women and young girls from ethnic minority communities. She has also been involved in community initiatives in Tower Hamlets.[6][8]

In October 2012, Khan contributed on BBC Radio 4's Four Thought in a discussion about "redefining multiculturalism".[5]

Writing career[edit]

In 2003, Khan's first novel Rainbow Hands was published.[8] This was followed by a short story If Birds Could Fly, which was published in Channel 4's TN4 Magazine.[9] In September 2006, her second novel Ayesha's Rainbow was published.[10] Ayesha's Rainbow is a children's novel, which tells the story of a seven-year-old Bangladeshi girl growing up in London's East End who befriends an elderly white neighbour. The story explores racism, prejudice and stereotyping that young Muslims experience in Britain.[4] It is partly autobiographical, based on Khan's own experiences growing up in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s,[7] and working as a community safety officer in the Isle of Dogs when British National Party candidate, Derek Beackon, was elected as a councillor in September 1993.[11][12]

Khan was awarded a place on the Royal Literary Fund Mentoring Scheme and asked to take part in the 2004 and 2005 Spitafields Women's Literary Festival.[6][13]

In June 2005, Khan co-founded Monsoon Press with Rekha Waheed.[4][11]

She has also been involved in editing the anthologies Silent Voices[14] and Behind the Hijab.[15] From January 2006 to January 2008, Khan was writer in residence at Central Foundation Girls' School,[4][11] where she developed 'Exploring the Unthinkable', a project that explored equalities and diversity issues using creative writing and the arts.[16]

Khan has worked as a freelance creative consultant for the BBC, ITV, Rich Mix Cultural Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. She has contributed to BBC Asian Network.[17] In 2006, Khan featured in and was a script advisor for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's documentary Young, British and Muslim.[17]

In January 2007, Khan founded television production company, Silsila Productions.[18] Since 2007, she has been a Creative Director at Silsila Productions.[17] In 2007, she also wrote the play Shilpa and Jade for the Wellcome Trust Pulse Project.[19] In 2009, she wrote the screenplay Shahid and Annika.[20] She wrote and produced two short films: The Good Wife, sponsored by Sixteen Films, and Shrouded, commissioned by London Met Services.[19]

In May 2021, her autobiographical non-fiction book My Hair is Pink Under This Veil was published by Biteback Publishing.[21]

Political career[edit]

In the May 2010 Tower Hamlets Council election, Khan won a seat in Shadwell for the Labour Party.[22] In October 2010, she was suspended along with nine other councillors from the Labour Party for supporting the newly elected independent Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman.[23][24][25] In May 2014, she was re-elected in the Shadwell ward as a candidate for Tower Hamlets First,[26] a party set up by Rahman. She was a member of Tower Hamlets First until it was disbanded in April 2015 following electoral corruption by Rahman.[27]

From October 2010 to April 2015, Khan was also the Cabinet Member of Housing.[28][29]

In April 2015, Khan along with the remaining 17 Tower Hamlets First councillors was described by Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC, acting as a judge in an election court investigating Lutfur Rahman's election, as being elected to Tower Hamlets Council "with the benefit of the corrupt and illegal practices", although Khan was not implicated in any claims of electoral fraud.[30] In the same month, Khan announced that she would stand in the by-election for mayor of Tower Hamlets, supported by Rahman[31][32][33][34][35][36][37] and all the former Tower Hamlets First councillors.[38] In May 2015, she stood as an independent candidate[39] and came second to Labour candidate John Biggs.[40][30]

Khan was subsequently re-elected as a councillor as a member of the Tower Hamlets Independent Group (THIG).[41] In November 2016, she defected from THIG to form the People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets (PATH),[41] which was formally recognised as a political party by the Electoral Commission in February 2018.[42]

In May 2018, Khan stood in the elections for the directly elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets.[43] She came second[44][45] and was re-elected as a councillor,[46] PATH's only win[47] and the only former Tower Hamlets First seat not taken by Labour.

Khan disbanded PATH in August 2018 with her and colleagues switching to the Liberal Democrats, making her the only Liberal Democrat councillor on Tower Hamlets Council.[48]

In the 2019 European Elections she was a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the London region. In September 2019, she was announced as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Kensington for the Next United Kingdom General Election.[49] She was appointed to be the Communities Special Advisor to the Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords, Lord Newby.[50] Sam Gyimah MP, elected as a Conservative but who had defected to the LibDems, became the candidate instead; he came third in the election.[51]

She stood in the 2022 Tower Hamlets Mayoral contest for the Liberal Democrats and for reelection to her Shadwell seat. She lost both. However, her mayoral candidacy helped the Liberal Democrats supplant the Conservatives for the first time in the borough's mayoral vote.[52]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Khan has been awarded a Tower Hamlets Civic Award.[6][13] In 2010, she was short listed for the European Muslim Women of Influence Award.[19] In October 2014, she was named 'hero of the year' in the European Diversity awards for her engagement in the East End and wider society.[53][54]

Personal life[edit]

Khan is a Muslim and speaks Bengali.[4] She lives in Whitechapel, London[7] with her husband, Aminur, three children, and mother-in-law. In 2009, Khan's father died.[4]


Year Title Credit Publisher ISBN
2003 Rainbow Hands Author Authors Online 978-0755200887
If Birds Could Fly TN4 Magazine
2006 Ayesha's Rainbow Fore-Word Press 978-0954886721
2007 Silent Voices Editor Monsoon Press 978-0955726705
2009 Behind the Hijab 978-0955726712

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cllr Rabina Khan chooses different path to join Liberal Democrats". lovewapping.org. Wapping, London. 29 August 2018. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2018.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ "Rabina Khan". London Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Interview: Rabina Khan". Novara Media. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kemp, Charlotte (29 August 2009). "The veil should not be a barrier between women". The National. Abu Dhabi. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Rabina Khan: Redefining Multiculturalism". Four Thought. BBC Radio 4. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d "Rabina Khan: Biography". Authors OnLine Self Publishing. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Saini, Angela (1 February 2007). "Racism in words". BBC News. London. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Author profile: Rabina Khan". Fore-word Press Ltd. 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  9. ^ "Books and Writing". Rabina Khan. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014.
  10. ^ Khan, Rabina (2006). Ayesha's Rainbow. ISBN 978-0954886721.
  11. ^ a b c "Book week: Profile – Rabina Khan". Asians in Media. 14 September 2007. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  12. ^ Rahman, Emdad (September 2006). "Ayesha's Rainbow: By Rabina Khan". CyberSylhet.com. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  13. ^ a b "author Rabina Khan". fore-word press. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  14. ^ Khan, Rabina (2007). Silent Voices. Monsoon Press. ISBN 978-0955726705.
  15. ^ Khan, Rabina (2009). Behind the Hijab. Monsoon Press. ISBN 978-0955726712.
  16. ^ McAlea, Leigh (11 July 2007). "Spare Time". BBC News. London. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  17. ^ a b c "Projects – Challenging Extremism". Silsila Productions. 21 May 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2012. Rabina Khan
  18. ^ "Rabina Khan – Artists directory". Arts & Entertainment. Tower Hamlets. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  19. ^ a b c "Rabina Khan". MBA Literary Agents. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  20. ^ "Projects – Behind the Hijab". Silsila Productions. 4 March 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2012. Rabina Khan
  21. ^ Khan, Rabina (2021). My Hair Is Pink Under This Veil. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 978-1785906466.
  22. ^ "Election results for Shadwell". Tower Hamlets Council. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  23. ^ Gilligan, Andrew (1 October 2010). "Lutfur Rahman: Eleven are expelled from the Labour Party". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 October 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  24. ^ 5Pillars (1 May 2015). "Rabina Khan chosen by Lutfur Rahman to run for mayor of Tower Hamlets". 5Pillars. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  25. ^ Hill, Dave (10 June 2015). "Tower Hamlets: the rise and fall of Lutfur Rahman". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  26. ^ "Election results for Shadwell". Tower Hamlets Council. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  27. ^ Croucher, Shane (10 June 2015). "Rabina Khan: Lutfur Rahman is not bankrolling my Tower Hamlets mayor campaign". International Business Times. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  28. ^ "London Borough of Tower Hamlets". London Councils' Directory. 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  29. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (22 April 2018). "Labour faces new challenge from old foes in Tower Hamlets vote". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  30. ^ a b Syal, Rajeev (12 June 2015). "John Biggs elected as Labour mayor of Tower Hamlets". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  31. ^ Brooke, Mike (1 May 2015). "Rabina Khan takes on fight for sacked mayor Rahman for Tower Hamlets re-run election". East London Advertiser. London. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  32. ^ de Peyer, Robin (30 April 2015). "Disgraced ex-Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman calls on supporters to donate funds for legal challenge". London Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  33. ^ "Lutfur Rahman names woman he wants to succeed him as mayor". ITV News. London. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  34. ^ "Disgraced Lutfur Rahman endorses Rabina Khan for Tower Hamlets mayor". Bdnews24.com. Bangladesh. 2 May 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  35. ^ Abedin, Syed Zahirul (9 June 2015). "Rabina Khan intends to lead transparent Tower Hamlets". News Bangladesh. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  36. ^ Hill, Dave (5 June 2015). "Nerves and defiance in re-run Tower Hamlets mayoral race". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  37. ^ Mike Brooke (1 May 2015). "Rabina Khan takes on fight for sacked mayor Rahman for Tower Hamlets re-run election". Docklands and East London Advertiser. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  38. ^ Croucher, Shane (10 June 2015). "Tower Hamlets: Rabina Khan campaign tainted by Lutfur Rahman corruption shadow in troubled East End borough". International Business Times. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  39. ^ Sewell, Dave (26 May 2015). "Rabina Khan's anti-austerity message welcome in Tower Hamlets". Socialist Worker. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  40. ^ Saini, Angela (12 June 2015). "Tower Hamlets election: Labour's John Biggs named mayor". BBC News. London. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  41. ^ a b Baynes, Mark (24 January 2017). "Exclusive: Lutfur Rahman making political comeback with new party". Love Wapping. Archived from the original on 27 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  42. ^ Brooke, Mike (28 February 2018). "Electoral Commission gives People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets recognition as a political party for council election". East London Advertiser. London. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  43. ^ Brooke, Mike (7 March 2018). "Tower Hamlets mayor election rivals in tug-of-war as 'breach of protocol' row erupts". East London Advertiser. London. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  44. ^ Brooke, Mike (4 May 2018). "ELECTION: Labour's John Biggs wins Tower Hamlets' mayor poll — double his rival's votes". East London Advertiser. London. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  45. ^ Powell, Tom (5 May 2018). "Local Elections 2018: Labour gains control of Tower Hamlets as last council in England declares". London Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  46. ^ "Election results for Shadwell". Tower Hamlets Council. 3 May 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  47. ^ "Local Elections – Thursday, 3rd May, 2018". Tower Hamlets Council. 3 May 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  48. ^ "Rabina Khan joins Liberal Democrats". East London News.
  49. ^ Kahn, Rabina [@RabinaKhan] (12 September 2019). "I'm standing in Kensington to represent a constituency and its diverse needs, I respect the wishes of the majority of its residents to Remain in Europe. Together we can stop Brexit and bring a sense of harmony back to the constituency. #StopTheBrexit" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  50. ^ "Rabina Khan appointed as special advisor to LibDem Leader in the House of Lords". Kensington & Chelsea Liberal Democrats.
  51. ^ "Former Tory Minister Sam Gyimah: I can take Kensington for the Lib Dems". standard.co.uk. 29 October 2019.
  52. ^ "Lib Dem candidate for Tower Hamlets mayor announced". East London Advertiser. 17 January 2022.
  53. ^ Asaad Buaras, Elham (28 November 2014). "Muslim Councillor wins European diversity award". The Muslim News. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  54. ^ Brooke, Mike (6 October 2014). "East End housing cabinet member Rabina wins European Diversity award". East London Advertiser. London. Retrieved 1 May 2015.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
New title Leader of the People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets
Succeeded by
Position abolished