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Sadiq Khan Elected London’s First Muslim Mayor

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In a Europe struggling with a rise in Islamophobia, riven by debates about the flood of Syrian migrants and on edge over religious, ethnic and cultural disputes, London has elected its first Muslim mayor.

Sadiq Khan — a Labour Party leader, a former human rights lawyer and a son of a bus driver from Pakistan — was declared the winner after a protracted count that extended into Saturday. He will be the first Muslim to lead Britain’s capital.

The victory also makes him one of the most prominent Muslim politicians in the West.

London is hardly representative of Britain: About a quarter of its residents are foreign-born, and one-eighth are Muslim. And Mr. Khan is not the first Muslim to hold prominent office in Europe: Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, has had a Muslim mayor since 2009, and Sajid Javidis the British secretary of state for business.

Nonetheless, Mr. Khan, 45, won a striking victory after a campaign dominated by anxieties over religion and ethnicity. Britain has not sustained a large-scale terrorist attack since 2005, and its Muslim population, in contrast to France, is considered well integrated. But an estimated 800 people have left Britain to fight for or support the Islamic State. Dozens of assaults on British Muslims were reported after the Paris terrorist attacks in November.

Goldsmith, according to London’s election body. The results were not final until Saturday morning because in London’s electoral system voters are allowed a first and second preference, and Mr. Khan did not win an outright majority in the first round.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Khan said that the mayoral election “was not without controversy” and added that he was “proud that London has today chosen hope over fear and unity over division.”

“I hope that we will never be offered such a stark choice again. Fear does not make us safer, it only makes us weaker and the politics of fear is simply not welcome in our city.”

Mr. Khan’s campaign focused on bread-and-butter issues like the cost of housing and transportation. He drew strong support from labor unions and kept a careful distance from his party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a socialist who has an ardent base among young voters but faces heavy resistance among fellow Labour lawmakers.

In the past week, the Labour Party was distracted by a dispute over anti-Semitism that led to the suspension of a lawmaker,Naseem Shah, and a former London mayor, Ken Livingstone.

Mr. Khan argued that, as an observant Muslim, he was well placed to tackle extremism. “I’m a Londoner, I’m European, I’m British, I’m English, I’m of Islamic faith, of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, a dad, a husband,” he said in a recent interview with The New York Times.

 

 

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