By JOSIAH TAKANG (jtakang22_7)
Photo credit goes to jantakareporter.com.
The largest city in the United Kingdom just elected a mayor Friday who might be banned from entering the United States under a hypothetical Donald Trump presidency.
Labour Party politician Sadiq Khan has become the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital city. His victory was over Conservative Zac Goldsmith, a wealthy son of a billionaire, with a clear plurality. He gained more than 1.1 million votes, the single largest mandate for any individual politician in British history.
Londoners elected Khan, 45, to an office in a city in which Muslims comprise fully 12 percent of the population. His election was met with hostility from some in the United States, where the hard-right Drudge Report website described him as the “first Muslim mayor of Londonistan”; he was called “an Islamist” by one major television network who shall not be named here.
Khan was born in London to Pakistani immigrant parents (his father was a City Metro bus driver). He grew up with his seven siblings in a three-bedroom, publicly-funded apartment. Khan gained a degree in law at the University of North London.
On his way to his entrance into government, he served as a councillor (think “city councilman”) in the Inner London borough of Wandsworth from 1994 to 2006, and at the time of his election, he served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Tooting, Metro London.
Khan identifies as a devout Muslim, but he explains that his religious beliefs are just one portion of his persona.
“We all have multiple identities: I’m a Londoner, I’m British, I’m English, I’m of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, I’m a dad, I’m a husband, I’m a long-suffering Liverpool fan,” he said.
"His election was met with hostility from some in the United States, where the hard-right Drudge Report website described him as the 'first Muslim mayor of Londonistan.'"
Sadiq Khan. Photo credit goes to ibtimes.co.uk.
His landmark victory follows a controversial campaign in which the Conservative Party was accused by many of attempting to smear Khan by accusing him of endorsing Islamic extremists -- strategies defended by some Conservative ministers but questioned by others within the party.
Goldsmith described Khan as “dangerous” and accused his opponent of giving “platforms, oxygen and even cover” to Islamic extremists -- a charge repeated by British Prime Minister David Cameron and other high-ranking Conservatives.
Andrew Boff, a London Conservative Party leader, criticized Goldsmith’s dog-whistle campaign strategies and said his actions and words may have damaged the Conservative party’s relations with British Muslims.
“I was really troubled by one particular aspect (of Goldsmith's campaign) and that’s when he started equating people with conservative religious views with sympathizing with terrorism. That sent a message out to many of the communities in London that’s very difficult to justify,” Boff, who did compete with Goldsmith for the mayoral nomination, told the BBC.
Would he make a good mayor? By all accounts, he is a good and likeable manager, aware of his weaknesses and open to external ideas. Unlike Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone -- London’s previous mayors -- he is a team player.
Unlike Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader whose campaign to run the party he led in 2010, he can take criticism.
“If there’s a good idea, I’ll replicate it; I’m not precious if it’s a Labour idea, a British idea, or not,” Miliband said.
With his election, Khan replaces the outgoing Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson, a figure equal parts popular and controversial, most recently regarding his remarks concerning U.S. President Barack Obama.
Khan is not the only British Muslim politician to rise to prominence this year, as Sajid Javid (incidentally, also the son of a Pakistani bus driver) was selected as the Tory (Conservative) business secretary.