London’s first Muslim mayor
The election of Sadiq Khan as the first Muslim mayor of London, a major Western city, is reverberating across the world.
The 45-year-old son of a Pakistani immigrant and Labour Party mayoral candidate was announced as the new London mayor yesterday. He comfortably defeated Zac Goldsmith, his Conservative Party rival who has been slammed for linking Khan to extremism.
CNN reported that Khan walked away with over 1.3 million votes as opposed to Goldsmith, who bagged just under a million. The website reported that in his inaugural speech, Khan fired a thinly veiled broadside at Goldsmith.
“This election was not without controversy and I’m so proud that Londoners have today chosen hope over fear and unity over division,” he said.
Of Goldsmith’s campaign, Al Jazeera said it was marked by accusations of being dirty and negative, including from within his own party, its emphasis on Khan’s alleged ties to extremists. “Critics have accused Goldsmith of attacking Khan on the basis of his Muslim faith, a claim he denies.”
Reporting from London, Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips said Khan’s victory was of “great symbolic importance” for the UK and the international community. “What was interesting was that the campaign became much more personal, much more bitter and much more ugly than what many people had anticipated.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail website reported that Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, was abuzz following the announcement of Khan’s victory. The news featured on the front pages of all major Pakistani newspapers, and also caused a stir on social media. Bilawal Bhutto, leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party and son of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, tweeted: “Congratulations @SadiqKhan 4 being elected mayor of London.”
Messages of support for Khan came from as far as New York. Reuters reported that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter: “Sending congratulations to London’s new mayor and fellow affordable housing advocate, @SadiqKhan.”
Khan replaces Conservative Party politician Boris Johnson, who ran the city for eight years.
Al Jazeera also reported that Khan’s father, who was a bus driver, arrived in London from Pakistan in the 1960s.
Khan studied law and later became a human rights lawyer before he was elected as the Labour MP for the London constituency of Tooting in 2005. Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister, included Khan in his Cabinet, first as minister of communications, then as minister of transport. After Labour lost power in 2010, its leader, Ed Miliband, included Khan in his shadow Cabinet.
WESTERN WIN Khan Sadiq Khan and his wife, Saadiya