London’s first Muslim mayor’s warm Twitter welcome

Sadiq Khan, Labour Party candidate, speaks on the podium after hearing the results of the London mayoral elections, at City Hall in London (Photo: AP)

The election of Sadiq Khan as London’s first Muslim mayor has been welcomed by all walks of life from popstars and sporting personalities to human rights lawyers and US presidential hopefuls.

His victory was significant, not only because the Labour Party - of which he is a member – failed to make any significant gains elsewhere in Thursday’s local elections, but also because he is London’s first Muslim mayor.

“Son of a Pakistani bus driver, champion of workers' rights and human rights, and now Mayor of London. Congrats, @SadiqKhan. –H,” Clinton wrote on her Twitter feed.

The former human rights lawyer was elected with a massive majority of 1,310,143 votes. The next closest was Conservative Zack Goldsmith who failed to get even close with 994,614 votes.

The majority was significantly bigger than either of his predecessors Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone.

Goldsmith came under fire for his mayoral campaign in which he tried to win the electorate’s favor by focusing on Khan's alleged links to Islamic extremists. It was a move that led on Friday to the Conservative’s own sister Jemima telling British media it "did not reflect who I know him to be".

In 2008 Khan wrote an article for British daily the Guardian in 2008 in which he said he “did not come into Parliament to be a Muslim MP.”

He added “And I have never set myself up as a Muslim spokesperson or community leader. Just as ordinary citizens have multiple identities, so do MPs.”

Indeed as he was celebrating his decisive victory this week many well wishers were focusing more on his work as a human rights lawyer than his religious background.

Manuela Carmena, a former Spanish human rights judge tweeted: “Congratulations to @SadiqKhan who will undoubtedly continue his human rights fight now from the London City Council #LondonVotes.”

Making reference to Goldsmith’s attempted smear campaign, British popstar Lily Allen wrote on her Twitter account: “And congratulations to Londons new Mayor @SadiqKhan. Proud to live in a city that saw past the propoganda and proud to have a Muslim Mayor.”

The backlash against Goldsmith’s comments continues with Luke Pritchard, singer of British rock band the Kooks tweeting: “Massive congrats to our man @SadiqKhan !! After all the dirty politics the best man came out on top.”

Khan’s election was possibly surprising to many because his policies are particularly left of center, with a particular focus on affordable housing and freezing public transport fares when the Conservative government is making significant efforts to cut public spending and coming under fire for soaring house prices, especially in the British capital.

Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi tweeted: “heartiest congratulations to @SadiqKhan, his election indicates that #hopeNotOut in the democratic system, there is place for common man.”

At the Greater London Assembly headquarters on Friday right wing mayoral candidate and leader of Britain First, Paul Golding turned his back on Khan as he gave his victory speech in protest over a Msulim winning the election.

Zac Goldsmith, Britain's Conservative Party candidate for Mayor of London (R) and Paul Golding, Mayor of London candidate for Britain First (L), react as Britain's Labour Party candidate for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks following his victory in the London mayoral election at City Hall in London, Britain, May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Zac Goldsmith, Britain's Conservative Party candidate for Mayor of London (R) and Paul Golding, Mayor of London candidate for Britain First (L), react as Britain's Labour Party candidate for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks following his victory in the London mayoral election at City Hall in London, Britain, May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A spokesman later told British website The Independent that Golding’s protest was in reaction to “an increasingly shrinking number of Britons left in the capital overall and far too many Muslims.”

They went onto claim that the protest had managed to ‘spoil Khan’s speech’. But that did not appear to be a view shared by all.
One Twitter user likened the protest to a child playing a game: "...98, 99, 100. Coming, ready or not!" Paul Golding playing Hide and Sadiq,” Tweeted Mitten D’Amour.

The mockery continued with British stand up comedian Ed Jaundrell tweeting: “EXTRA! EXTRA! Paul Golding confuses election event with BBC's The Voice! Say's he would have turned around but couldn't find the button.”

Khan’s victory has received a particularly warm welcome from Pakistan, his father’s home country.

Pakistan cricket team captain Shoaib Mallik Tweeted: “The nomination/election win of @SadiqKhan is a beautiful story of endless possibilities. My Duas for your success.”

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
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