London mayor elections: A good week for Muslims in the West

The election could not have been timed better in Europe and the wider Western world

Mohamed Chebarro
Mohamed Chebarro
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By his own admission, Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London, never dreamt of becoming a mayor. However, it has now become a reality for this self-made hard working moderate British Muslim of Pakistani origin.

The media has used all the above terms to describe him, putting Mayor Khan in the spotlight for the year to come. However, the real story is that his election could not have been timed better in Europe and the wider Western world.

Stories of Muslim success are scarce in the West. A section of the media routinely drums up fear directly or indirectly. Fiery statements issued by Da’esh are inflated and their criminal violent acts go viral especially in a teetering Europe, which has its own set of challenges. Then there is increased migration, economic hardships, and the rise of the extreme right from many corners of European society.

The last week though was different for tolerance, interfaith coexistence, multi-ethnic harmony, and peace in the world for all hopefuls. Khan’s election as mayor of one of the greatest cities in the world is one important democratic step to be applauded even though this is not strange for the UK. The second even was the reopening of a 100-year-old mosque, which was destroyed in Banja Luka in northern Bosnia during the conflict of the early 1990s, which eventually led to the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Londoners will judge Sadiq Khan on his actions and not his faith, social ranking or political affiliation

Mohamed Chebarro

Khan’s success goes beyond his victory at the mayoral polls. He has been a successful human rights lawyer and a local councilor in Tooting in south London. Later he was elected Member of Parliament in Britain for the Labour Party under Tony Blair’s leadership. He served as a minister in the Gordon Brown government.

The son of a Pakistani immigrant, and a London bus driver, Khan went on to become the first Muslim Mayor of the city. However, Londoners will judge him on his actions and not his faith, social ranking or political affiliation.

The mosque in Bosnia

When Khan was handed over the Mayorship in a ceremony at the Multi Faiths Cathedral of Southwark on the River Thames in London, leaders from all Bosniac faiths came together to inaugurate the Ferhadiya grand mosque in Banja Luka the Serb governed enclave in Bosnia. The mosque, built in the 16th century by the then Ottoman governor, was raised to the ground by ultra nationalist Bosnian Serbs during the Bosnian war that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia 23 years ago.

On the 7th May 1993, thousands were driven away in the worst ethnic cleansing campaign witnessed in modern Europe. This is the time that all Europeans wish to forget today despite continued fringe communal and religious tension. This is not the story of the day, nor will it determine Khan’s success or failure.

Instead, it is the message of tolerance and unity that his election sends across all European cities. His election is also an answer to ISIS that tried to terrorize Paris and Brussels recently after a wave of attacks planned and executed by native brainwashed and trained Muslim Europeans.

Election of Sadiq Khan and reopening of the mosque in Banja Luka defy all stereotypes and islamophobia as both events reverberate the microcosm of our world. This is the world, I reckon, of entente, coexistence and peace.

I dare not be one to blow the trumpet of London, but I am of a view that electing to high office personalities with first Muslim, first black, first women burden the mission of an executive trying to execute and process colossal tasks in people’s interests. But if labor’s controversial leader Jeremy Corbyn could do Mayor Sadiq Khan one simple favor, it will be to leave him alone and spare him hashtags like #YesweKhan!

Sadiq Khan’s own words are enough to reassure the city. He said he wants to be “Mayor for all Londoners”, also he said that he is proud that Londoners chose hope over fear, in keeping with London and the British Isles characteristic which over centuries barred the politics of fear, and presented opportunities and new hopes for all who arrived at its shores.
Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London. He tweets @mochebaro

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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