Lon­don’s first Mus­lim mayor

CityPress - - News - STAFF RE­PORTER news@city­press.co.za

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.

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WESTERN WIN Khan Sadiq Khan and his wife, Saadiya

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