Sadiq Khan TO Become Its First Muslim Mayor

In a Europe struggling with a rise in Islamophobia, riven by debates about the flood of Syrian migrants and on edge over religious, ethnic and cultural disputes, London has elected its first Muslim mayor.

Sadiq Khan — a Labour Party leader, a former human rights lawyer and a son of a bus driver from Pakistan — was declared the winner after a protracted count that extended into Saturday. He will be the first Muslim to lead Britain’s capital.

The victory also makes him one of the most prominent Muslim politicians in the West.

London is hardly representative of Britain: About a quarter of its residents are foreign-born, and one-eighth are Muslim. And Mr. Khan is not the first Muslim to hold prominent office in Europe: Rotterdam, in the Netherlands,has had a Muslim mayor since 2009, and Sajid Javid is the British secretary of state for business.

Nonetheless, Mr. Khan, 45, won a striking victory after a campaigndominated by anxieties over religion and ethnicity. Britain has not sustained a large-scale terrorist attack since 2005, and its Muslim population, in contrast to France, is considered well integrated. But an estimated 800 people have left Britain to fight for or support the Islamic State. Dozens of assaults on British Muslims were reported after the Paris terrorist attacks in November.

The Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, attacked Mr. Khan’s past advocacy for criminal defendants, including his opposition to the extradition of a man who was later convicted in the United States of supporting terrorism. Mr. Goldsmith said Mr. Khan had given “oxygen and cover” to extremists. When the Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, repeated those assertions in Parliament, he was accused of racism.

Mr. Khan defended his work as a human rights lawyer, and has said he hoped Donald J. Trump — the presumptive Republican presidential candidate who has called for barring Muslims from entering the United States — “loses badly.”

Mr. Khan’s victory was also his party’s biggest boost in a series of elections on Thursday in which Labour further lost its grip on Scotland, once a stronghold, and clung, in some cases just barely, to seats in England and Wales.

Continue reading the main story

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Yohannes 1 hour ago
The politics of fear is defeated in London. The polities of hope triumphed over fear. Move over demagogues!
Mike B 1 hour ago
I am a Jewish (admittedly agnostic) Londoner and am hugely proud of our new mayor Sadiq Khan. He is for inclusiveness and has shown it…
hometruth 1 hour ago
Whilst I congratulate London, I take issues with folks writing here as if by electing a mayor suddenly UK is more progressive than the US…
Mr. Khan won with 56.8 percent of the vote, versus 43.2 percent for Mr. Goldsmith, according to London’s election body. The results were not final until Saturday morning because in London’s electoral system voters are allowed a first and second preference, and Mr. Khan did not win an outright majority in the first round.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Khan said that the mayoral election “was not without controversy” and added that he was “proud that London has today chosen hope over fear and unity over division.”

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“I hope that we will never be offered such a stark choice again. Fear does not make us safer, it only makes us weaker and the politics of fear is simply not welcome in our city.”

Mr. Khan’s campaign focused on bread-and-butter issues like the cost of housing and transportation. He drew strong support from labor unions and kept a careful distance from his party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a socialist who has an ardent base among young voters but faces heavy resistance among fellow Labour lawmakers.

In the past week, the Labour Party was distracted by a dispute over anti-Semitism that led to the suspension of a lawmaker, Naseem Shah, and a former London mayor, Ken Livingstone.

Mr. Khan argued that, as an observant Muslim, he was well placed to tackle extremism. “I’m a Londoner, I’m European, I’m British, I’m English, I’m of Islamic faith, of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, a dad, a husband,” he said in a recent interview with The New York Times.


Ballot counting in Glasgow. The Scottish National Party had won 58 seats on Friday morning, still short of the 65 required to win a majority in the 129-seat Parliament, but far ahead of its rivals. Credit Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
The fifth of eight children, Mr. Khan was born in Tooting, South London, to recent immigrants from Pakistan, and grew up in a public-housing project. His father drove a bus, and his mother was a seamstress.

Elected to Parliament in 2005, Mr. Khan was appointed a junior minister for communities in 2008, and minister for transport in 2009 under the last Labour prime minister, Gordon Brown. Although he was not one of the highest-ranking ministers, he became the first Muslim to attend cabinet meetings regularly and was admitted to the Privy Council, a largely ceremonial body in which induction normally requires taking an oath to the queen.

“The palace called me and said, ‘What type of Bible do you want to swear on?’ ” Mr. Khan told the magazine The New Statesman. “When I said the Quran, they said, ‘We haven’t got one.’ So I took one with me.”

As London’s mayor, he will have significant power over transportation and planning — as well as responsibilities for the police, civil defense and fire services — in a city with an acute shortage of affordable homes and a creaking, overcrowded mass transit network.

Mr. Khan will succeed Boris Johnson, a Conservative who has held the post since 2008 and is a leading figure in the campaign for Britain’s departure from the European Union. That vote will take place on June 23. Mr. Johnson is seen as a possible successor to Mr. Cameron as leader of the Conservatives, particularly if Britain votes to leave; Mr. Cameron is campaigning for Britain to remain.

Within Britain, the news of the collapse of the Labour Party in Scotland was almost as big as Mr. Khan’s victory.

The Scottish National Party won its third straight victory in the Scottish Parliament — a triumph that its leader, Nicola Sturgeon, called historic, even though the party narrowly lost its majority. The Labour Party fell to a humiliating third place, behind the Conservatives, who won seats in part by appealing to Scots opposed to independence. Scots rejected independence in a 2014 referendum, but there is speculation that a new referendum could be called, particularly if Britain leaves the European Union.


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