Over the weekend, Khan garnered international press for being the first Muslim mayor not only of London, but of a European Union capital, making him quite possibly the most powerful Muslim politician in the West.
Succeeding the UK’s Conservative Boris Johnson, Khan is the first Labor mayor London has had in eight years and the first ethnic minority mayor the city has ever elected.
Khan’s victory, however, came after suffering a brutally racist campaign from the Conservative Party, led by right-wing politician Zac Goldsmith and supported by Prime Minister David Cameron.
In an unforgivable attempt to win the mayoral election using anti-Muslim hate speech, Goldsmith wrote that the Pakistani-origin Khan was linked to religious extremism and terrorism in an article he wrote for the Daily Mail just days before the mayoral election took place.
He wrote, “If Labor wins on Thursday, we will have handed control of the Met, and with it control over national counter-terrorism policy, to a party whose candidate and current leadership have, whether intentionally or not, repeatedly legitimised those with extremist views… [Labor party leader Jeremy] Corbyn has described Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’.:”
Even Goldsmith’s sister, Jemima Khan, the former wife of Pakistani politician Imran Khan who also supported Goldsmith, publicly denounced her brother on Twitter for holding such a fear-mongering campaign against the new Mayor of London.
Sad that Zac's campaign did not reflect who I know him to be- an eco friendly, independent- minded politician with integrity.— Jemima Goldsmith (@Jemima_Khan) May 6, 2016
Furthermore, the attention surrounding Khan’s faith has been expressive of rampant Islamophobia from the right. This too has been been characteristic of the Republican Party’s campaign for presidency in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
In an interview with Time, Khan further mentioned that he would not be able to enter the U.S. if Trump wins the presidential election. Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric has appealed to conservative voters here in the U.S.
“I want to go to America to meet with and engage with American mayors. If Donald Trump becomes the president I’ll be stopped from going there by virtue of my faith, which means I can’t engage with American mayors and swap ideas,” Khan explained.
However, Khan suggests taking Trump’s proposed ban and closing of borders with a grain of salt, in light of the failed smear campaign led by the Conservatives against Labor. “Conservative tacticians thought those sort of tactics would win London and they were wrong,” he said. “I’m confident that Donald Trump’s approach to politics won’t win in America.”
Banner Image Credit: Reuters