Home is London, Sadiq Khan tells ‘insensitive’ BBC
THE BBC has been accused of racial insensitivity after one of its reporters asked Sadiq Khan if a trip to Pakistan felt “like coming home”.
The Mayor of London was born, raised and still lives in Tooting, south London. He was being interviewed during a six-day trade mission to India and Pakistan.
“Does it feel like coming home?” asked a reporter from BBC London News, as he accompanied the mayor across the Wagah border between the two countries.
Mr Khan replied: “Home’s south London, mate. But it’s good to be in Pakistan. It’s good to come from India, home of my parents and grandparents.”
A clip of the “coming home” question went viral on social media as users praised Mr Khan’s response and criticised the BBC.
Sunny Hundal, a British writer, said the question was patronising. “We may have south Asian heritage but our home is Britain. Get that through your heads,” he tweeted.
The exchange came two days after the corporation was forced to apologise over a BBC News at Ten report on the death of Shashi Kapoor, the Bollywood actor. Huw Edwards introduced two clips, but both showed the wrong actor: the first was of Amitabh Bachchan, the second of Rishi Kapoor. The programme’s editor said the report was not up to the BBC’S “usual standards”. Last week, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour mixed up a Vietnamese film-maker and a Japanese doctor.
However, the BBC said the question to Mr Khan had been taken out of context. “Our reporter asked the mayor a question in the context of the trip being referred to by senior politicians in the region as a homecoming,” a spokesman said.
A spokesman for Mr Khan said he had not taken offence at the question. The politician’s family, who are Muslim, moved from Lucknow in India to Karachi in Pakistan after partition.
In 1968, Mr Khan’s father moved to London, where he worked as a bus driver. Mr Khan met Saadiya, his wife, at school in Tooting and they live there with their two children.
Mr Khan’s trade mission is a rare example of a British politician visiting both India and Pakistan on the same trip. He was advised by the Foreign Office to undertake two separate trips. “There are tensions between the two countries, there are diplomatic challenges. The land crossing is symbolic,” he told the Evening Standard.
He has been tipped as a future Labour leader. But in an interview with ITV News, he said he had no interest in the top job. “I never had ambitions in the first place and I’ve got no ambitions now. I love being the mayor. Why give up a job I love to do a job I don’t want? I’m absolutely ruling myself out. For ever,” he said.