MOURNERS lined the streets of Newport today to pay their respects to Gwent politician Mohammed Asghar.

The South Wales East MS, known to many as 'Oscar', died suddenly on June 16, aged 74. He was the first Muslim to be elected to the Senedd, as well as its first ethnic minority member.

A funeral procession, with a horse-drawn carriage carrying his coffin, set out from the Newport Central Mosque on Commercial Road this morning, and made its way to his office on Corporation Road.


The procession continued, and in a touching moment, stopped in front of Mr Asghar’s constituency offices on Church Road, where a number of his friends and colleagues had gathered.

There was a moment of silence in tribute to Mr Asghar before setting off, and outside both his office and constituency office.

He was later laid to rest in a private service.

Among those gathered to pay tribute to Mr Asghar was Matthew Evans, leader of Newport's Conservative group.

“A great many people have turned up here today to pay tribute to Oscar,” he said.

“You can just tell from speaking to people the impact he had on their lives.

“It’s a sad day for his family, but it is also important to remember those positive stories we have heard today.”

South Wales Argus:

The carriage stopped outside Mohammad Asghar's constituency office.

Mayor of Newport, Cllr William Routley, said: “It’s a day where we remember how fragile life is, and we have lost a good friend, a colleague and a brother.

“It was a fitting send-off.”

Laura Jones, who will succeed Mr Asghar in the Senedd, said: “Oscar was a wonderful family man with a heart of gold, and people turning out today to pay their respects just proves how much he was loved in his home city, and across Wales.”

As well as colleagues, a number of Mr Asghar’s constituents and friends paid their respects as the procession passed through.

“He would help anyone, and was really kind hearted,” said Zafar Ali, 56, from Newport. “He’ll be sadly missed.”

Reg Singh, 68, from Blackwood, knew Mr Asghar for 46 years and described him as “one of my best friends.”

“He would do anything for anybody,” said Mr Singh. “I’ll miss him, and I’ll never forget about him.”

“He was a very well respected man who did a lot for the community,” said Mohammed Boota, 70, from Newport. “He was a lovely character. He will be sorely missed.

“Our thoughts go to his family.”

South Wales Argus:

The procession arrives at Newport Central Mosque.

Mubarak Ali, 64 from Newport, said: “He was very approachable. If you had a problem, you could go and see him.

“He’ll be missed by everyone.”

“He was a wonderful man,” said 60-year-old Nazma Bibi, from Langstone. “He was always in the midst of the people, you wouldn’t have thought he was in the parliament. He was a people person.

“It was such a shock.

“He was always there to help with any problem.

“He was our accountant for some time, but we never thought of him as our accountant; he was a member of our family.”