Will A Muslim London Mayor Be Allowed to Work?

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Sadiq Khan
Sadiq Khan during election campaign

M GHAZALI KHAN | Caravan Daily

By tomorrow London will, most probably as forecasts predict, have Sadiq Aman Khan as its first Muslim Mayor.

Born on 8 October 1970, the fifth of eight children, to migrant parents from Pakistan—father a bus driver and mother seamstress—Khan, a solicitor by profession, has been a Labour Party Member of Parliament since 2005 and has occupied several ministerial portfolios.

“I was surrounded by my mum and dad working all the time, so as soon as I could get a job, I got a job. I got a paper round, a Saturday job – some summers I laboured on a building site.” Khan told The New Statesman.

Although generally a popular politician with his constituents and described as one of the most down-to-earth British politicians, looking at the smear campaign, and probably one of the most polarised elections in Britain, one wonders if he will be allowed to work as a Mayor without being dragged into controversies.

When it comes to dirty election tricks and polarisation, Narendra Modi’s election campaign in Gujarat in 2002, followed by the implementation of his tested divisive and poisonous strategy in Uttar Pradesh in 2014, Donald Trump’s venom-spitting speeches in the US Presidential elections and Sadiq Khan’s main rival Zac Goldsmith’s Islamophobic propaganda, supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, prove that selfish, shallow and opportunist politicians are no different from each other anywhere in the world.

“The number one job of any mayor of London is to keep our city safe. Yet if Labour wins on Thursday, we will have handed control of the Met, and with it control over national counter-terrorism policy, to a party whose candidate and current leadership have, whether intentionally or not, repeatedly legitimised those with extremist views,” Zac Goldsmith opined about Sadiq Khan.

Interestingly while in London, Zac Goldsmith is busy in attacking Sadiq Khan as an ISIS sympathiser, in Pakistan his former brother-in-law, Imran Khan, is being accused by Maulana Fazlur Rahman, one of the most opportunist politicians, as a Zionist agent.

London Mayor Elections

It is not only because of Sadiq Khan’s Muslim background that he is being targeted. He has one more “sin” in a list of his “crimes”: He has supported, Jeremy Corbyn, a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause.

“You don’t need to know everything about Labour’s candidate, you just need to know one fact,” according to David Cameron. “He nominated Jeremy Corbyn to be leader of the Labour Party and doesn’t regret that choice. If you want to be lab rats in Labour’s experiment with London then you go for the other guy.”

Cameron did not stop at this. He made further attacks on Corbyn calling him a Hizbullah and Hamas friend.

He went as low as accusing Sadiq Khan of sharing a stage with an “ISIS supporter” British Imam, Suliman Gani. In response Suliman Gani did not only reject the allegation but also posted a photo of himself posing with Goldsmith and has demanded an apology from Cameron.

In order to woo South Asians in his flyers, Goldsmith also highlighted that Jeremy Corbyn had once signed a petition to ban Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the UK. The flyer stated: “[Zac Goldsmith] welcomed Prime Minister Modi to London last year alongside Prime Minister David Cameron. Khan did not attend the ‘UK Welcomes Modi’ event at Wembley Stadium last year.”

A leading human rights organisation,  South Asia Solidarity Group (SASG) has condemned this move as “racism” and  launched a social media campaign against posting on Twitter images of themselves holding up a signs that read ‘#No2RacistZac’ and ‘#No2ToryHindutva’.

UK’s influential The Muslim News in its editorial “London Mayoral elections, dividing communities” said, “Zac Goldsmith was highly regarded among many Muslims. However, the approach of his campaign has been seriously troubling for many of the capital’s Muslim communities… And only this week, the Prime Minister of our nation, ramped up the rhetoric by accusing the Labour candidate of sharing a platform with a supporter of IS [Daesh], unfortunately ignoring the fact that this individual was a Tory party supporter with significant interaction with many Conservative MPs, including Goldsmith himself.

“His campaign has understandably been accused of being ‘racist’, ‘Islamophobic’, ‘hypocritical’, ‘appalling’, ‘disgusting’, ‘disgraceful’ and ‘demeaning to the office of Prime Ministers’ by senior journalists and politicians.” It further said.

Before Zac and Cameron’s wild attacks on Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour MP Naz Shah (a Muslim as well) was suspended from the Labour Party for her alleged “anti-Semitic” remarks posted on her Facebook page in 2014, nine months before becoming an MP.

Her crime of condemning Israeli atrocities in Gaza were considered so serious that one of the stalwarts of Labour Party and former Mayor of London Ken Livingston was also shown the way out for defending Ms Naz by saying, “I don’t think her comments were anti-Semitic. They were bitterly critical of Israel and its supporters. She went over the top, she apologised.” He also said that “Hitler was “supporting Zionism” before he “went mad and ended up killing six million Jews” he too was shown the way out. To his credit, Mr Livingston has refused to budge and bow on his stand.

This was followed by the dismissal of two Labour Councillors for their alleged “anti-Semitic” remarks.

Former Conservative Party Chairman Sayeeda Warsi, who had to resign from government posts over her remarks on Gaza in her tweet said, “If Sadiq Khan isn’t an acceptable enough Muslim to stand for London mayor, which Muslim is?”

Muslim politicians in a secular and multicultural society have to tread on a very tight rope. Community’s real and unreal expectations coupled by various compulsions on the ground leave them in a very difficult situation. “The recent attacks on Sadiq Khan’s character because of his religion have been difficult to watch, particularly as a fellow Muslim,” writes Tulip Siddiq in a piece headlined “The reality of being a Muslim MP? Smear campaigns outside mosques and being told to change my name.”

As all the polls suggest Sadiq Khan will win Mayoral election but, forget about community’s expectations, will he be able to speak up his mind and will he be allowed to condemn Israeli occupation and continuous atrocities on Palestinians? Unlike Ken Livingston, who, as Mayor of London, did not hesitate in participating pro Palestine rallies, Sadiq Khan has already announced that he will host a Tel Aviv Festival in London next year.  Like a majority of Muslim politicians, Sadiq Khan will bend backwards to compromise. But it seems Jeremy Corbyn will continue to be targeted until there is a revolt within the Labour Party and a new leader is elected.

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