Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor Who Wants to Take on the Extremists

Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslim Mayor calls his victory as a triumph of “hope over fear and unity over division.”

2 min read
Sadiq Khan has become London’s first Muslim Mayor. (Photo: AP)

Sadiq Khan became London’s first Muslim mayor on Saturday, as voters rejected attempts to taint him with links to extremism and handed a decisive victory to the bus driver’s son from south London.

Khan hailed his victory as the triumph of “hope over fear and unity over division.”

A Sweeping Victory

Labour Party candidate Khan, 45, who grew up in public housing in inner city London, received more than 1.3 million votes – 57 percent of the total – to Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith’s 43 percent after voters’ first and second preferences were allocated.

Goldsmith, a wealthy environmentalist, called Khan divisive and accused him of sharing platforms with Islamic extremists – a charge repeated by Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior Conservatives.

Khan, who calls himself “the British Muslim who will take the fight to the extremists,” accused Goldsmith of trying to scare and divide voters in a proudly multicultural city of 8.6 million people – more than 1 million of them Muslim.

Fear does not make us safer, it only makes us weaker. And the politics of fear is simply not welcome in our city.
Sadiq Khan

The South-Asian Connect

As reported in The Mirror, Sadiq was born at St George’s Hospital in the Tooting constituency that he has represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2005.

His father, who came to Britain in the 1960s, was a bus driver and his mother made extra money working as a seamstress from home.

Brought up in a council house, Khan has seven brothers and one sister. Seven of them went on to university and the other is a successful mechanic.

His father didn’t want them to be bus drivers.

“My parents wanted their children to do better than them,” he said, adding “My dad was never embarrassed of being a bus driver, but it was clear, in a non-arrogant way, that he was better educated.”

Khan also made an emotional speech after a much-delayed result, referencing his Pakistani father, who he said would have been “proud that the city he chose to call his home, has now chosen one of his children to be the mayor.”

His Share of Controversies

Khan held his lead in the opinion polls, despite accusations by Goldsmith that he has shared platforms with radical Muslim speakers and given “oxygen” to extremists.

Khan says he has fought extremism all his life and that he regrets sharing a stage with speakers who held “abhorrent” views. The Labour Party accused Goldsmith and the ruling Conservative Party of smearing Khan.

While fighting those charges, Khan, a former human rights lawyer, also distanced himself from the newly elected Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, after a row over anti-Semitism.

The Labour leader ordered an inquiry into charges of anti-Semitism after suspending Ken Livingstone, a political ally and a former London mayor, for saying Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism.

(With agency inputs.)

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