In his book Human, All Too Human, Friedrich Nietzsche advises us that there’s nothing we must be aware of more than feeling of pride because it destroys everything.
Dozens of articles and hundreds of posts on twitter expressed pride over Sadiq Khan’s victory as the mayor for British capital, London. Writers of these articles and posts actually live in Muslim communities and some of them were British of Pakistani origin. Khan comes from a humble background, which represents the majority in these communities.
This feeling of pride gives strength and happiness to Muslims as through this victory they have the chance to prove themselves. They can claim that someone from the community is part of the political and social elite who exerts great influence.
However, after the joy of victory fades away, a painful truth can surface, which could be very harmful for those who show off excess pride. The reason, as Nietzsche pointed out, is that they want for themselves an exaggerated attention that others do not really recognize and turns out to be mistaken.
The only community that has the right to be proud of Khan’s victory is the one that demonstrates values of tolerance and pluralism and allows the freedom to believeHassan Al Mustafa
I do not want to ruin your happiness over Khan’s achievement. After all, he deserved it because he is a British citizen, a candidate of the Labor Party and has wide experience as a former member of the Britain General Council, former minister of social affairs and later the minister of transportation. This shows that Khan did not win because he is a Muslim, originally Pakistani, or because his father was a bus driver.
The social conditions in which Khan grew up might have helped him achieved victory and might have encouraged a large number of British people to elect him. But, what mainly brought him to the position is his competency.
Therefore, I keep asking myself: What's Khan’s victory has got to do with us? Do we, Muslims in Islamic countries, have the right to be proud of his achievement? What connects us to the mayor?
I don’t believe we have any stake in Khan’s victory over his rival Zac Goldsmith. In fact, the victory was achieved in a liberal and a secular framework in a country that has historic constitutional institutions and a democracy that gives equal opportunities without discrimination on the basis of race, religion or gender.
Similarities and differences
We and Sadiq Khan are very different from each other. In fact, sectarianism and tribal affiliations continues to define Arab societies. Therefore, instead we should ask ourselves this question: can a non-Muslim win the post of a mayor of a leading Islamic capital? Can we believe in someone who has no affiliation to any religion or tribe and not take into account his background and identity?
We were mainly proud of two things with regards Sadiq Khan’s victory – the triumph of a Muslim politician, who originally comes from the East, and has defeated Goldsmith, the white aristocrat and Jewish man.
It also shows that sometimes we demonstrate fake pride. The argument on Twitter regarding Khan’s faith, whether he was Sunni or Shiite, all laid bare the ideology we follow.
The only community that has the right to be proud of Khan’s victory is the one that demonstrates values of tolerance and pluralism and allows the freedom to believe. Communities that still fight and shed blood because of hatred and sectarianism should steer clear of the entire issue.
This article was first published on Al Riyadh on May 13, 2016.
Hassan Al-Mustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters.