Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London
London has suffered at the hands of Muslim extremists, while its Muslim citizens’ reputation has been distorted by the crimes of terrorist organizations
In a sign of great tolerance, and despite what extremists have done to Muslims’ reputation across Europe, the people of London elected a Muslim, Sadiq Khan, as mayor. He has nothing to do with religious activities - he won by presenting a civil agenda in which he promised better security, municipal services and housing conditions.
London has suffered from Muslim extremists, while its Muslim citizens’ reputation has been distorted by the crimes of terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Extremist preachers who incited against others were present in the city for many years, although it was London that saved them from hunger and fear. These people later turned against the city and incited violence.
Khan may adopt a stricter policy than his predecessor in tackling extremism. He has firm stances against Hezbollah and Hamas, and said he will lead a campaign against the spread of extremism among Muslim youths. Khan calls for tolerance, and has visited temples and churches. At a Hindu temple, he promised to lead a delegation of British businessmen on a trip to India.
Khan’s election interested people in the Arab world, as many commentators considered it a sign of tolerance despite extremism and terrorism in EuropeAbdulrahman al-Rashed
The mayoral elections were diverse in terms of candidates. The Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith, who came second behind Labour’s Khan, is from a prominent Jewish family. His sister Jemima was married to Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan, who became a politician in Pakistan but failed to become prime minister. The far-right British National Party garnered less than 1 percent of the vote.
Khan and Goldsmith come not just from two different religions but from two different classes. The former is the son of a bus driver, while the latter’s father is a millionaire. Khan’s election interested people in the Arab world, as many commentators considered it a sign of tolerance despite extremism and terrorism in Europe.
While Londoners elected a Muslim mayor, U.S. Republicans chose Donald Trump as their presidential candidate despite his hateful rhetoric. Electing Khan reveals Londoners’ liberal orientations. Their city is one of the world’s most important - a leader in thought and culture.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 16, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed