Friday, March 4, 2016

A Muslim Mayor of London?

His father, of Pakistani origin, was a London bus driver, his mother a local seamstress.Sadiq Aman Khan was born in London in 1970, lived in a council flat (public housing) and made his way through school until graduating with a law degree from the University of North London. As left-leaning attorney, Khan focused on human rights cases and was eventually elected to Parliament within the Labour Party in 2005. His is a rising star within his party, and he wants to be London’s next mayor. He’s running against a scion of a billionaire family (son of global corporate raider/financier Sir James Goldsmith), Tory Party (conservative) Zac Goldsmith, whom he has labeled a “chronic underachiever.”
Although he has embraced populist issues like freezing Underground (subway) fares, Khan has also moved more toward the center (centre?) of late by pledging support for airport expansion and oppose attempts impose a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on the banks (a fee on buying stocks, shares and derivatives publicly backed by the Labour leader last summer). His most interesting positions (to me anyway) revolve around terrorism, online recruitment of local Muslims and protecting his country from the ISIS threat. “The Labour candidate also opens up about fears he has for his teenage daughters over online radicalisation and demands ministers shut down internet providers being used to promote extremism… The comments, which come less than four months before Londoners head to the polls to select their Mayor, are an apparent attempt to win over crucial undecided voters in the capital’s suburbs.”, February 7th.
Clearly, he’s already got support from the left so he is now courting voters in the middle and even on the right. “Despite being considered on the Left of his party, Mr Khan… uses an interview with the Telegraph to explain why Tories should vote for him… Chatting in a room in Parliament with sweeping views over the capital, Mr Khan attacks foreign millionaires buying up property only to leave it empty and pledges to create a new batch of truly ‘affordable’ houses.
“His definition of a successful mayor, he says, is one who can put aside party affiliations and speak for the city as a whole… ’I am trying to persuade Telegraph readers to look at me, to look at my experiences, to look at my vision for London and what I would do for London,’ Mr Khan says… ‘When you meet and study the best mayors from around the world they are not tribal. What they try and do is to reach across the entire city.’”
To many Americans witnessing this important mayoral race, the mere thought of a Muslim running for this prominent office has to be viewed as an absurd longshot. For all of our lip service about “equity” and “tolerance” and “freedom of religion,” between Republican statements to ban Muslims from traveling to the United States, determining that escaping persecution for vetted refugees is not enough to allow Muslims to settle here, to the proclivity of too many of our urban police departments to treat black Americans with deep skepticism and second class status (“shooting first, asking questions later”), the thought of Muslim mainstream big city mayor is just inconceivable. Surely, the Brits are no different? Right?
Khan a big player in the Labour Party, having nominated his Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn. And he is looking pretty good in early polling, even though London has just run through two prior Tory mayors. “Mr. Khan is the bookmakers’ favourite to defeat Mr. Goldsmith…” Maybe America just might learn a thing or two about human rights from our British friends. Or maybe we will just continue to become more fearful, more racist, less tolerant and allow ISIS and its ilk redefine what it means to be American.
I’m peter Dekom, and it’s hard to be proud of my country these days as it seems to foster a level of intolerance and bad behavior I have not seen in my lifetime.

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