Despite the bigotry surrounding his election campaign, progressive Muslim candidate Sadiq Khan has been elected Mayor of London, injecting hope around the world for the 'values of humanity and harmony' over fear. Zushan Hashmi reports.
A man of humble beginnings, Khan – much like Narendra Modi, the son of a tea-seller – is the son of a bus driver who also happened to be a Pakistani immigrant to the UK.
Khan is now championed as the first Muslim mayor of a major European City. Additionally, he was made out to be the proletariat answer to the Conservative Party’s "Bourgeoisie" candidate, Zac Goldsmith. Muslims, minorities and Pakistanis, among others, all across the UK and around the world, are celebrating this moment as a monumental victory, possibly even the rise of a “coloured Charlemagne” in contemporary Europe.
On the other side of the spectrum, right-wing bigots have been shuddering in fear and spewing hatred, while sitting comfortably behind their keyboards as they post slurs on social media:
‘Muslims will secure control of governments across Europe the same way Sadiq Khan now has control of London.'
‘Sh**libs elected a filthy stinking no good heather Muslim for it's mayor. May God help you all.’
This is only a mild example of how Sadiq Khan has been perceived by his opponents. Additionally, words like “anti-Semite” and “extremism-apologist” have been heard numerous times over the course of his campaign, from political opponents and detractors alike.
This form of negative rhetoric is by no means restricted to a certain religious or ethnic group. After all, Khan is not your average Muslim. As a supporter and proponent of the LGBT community, due to his experiences as a human rights lawyer, he has received his share of death threats from hard-line Islamic extremists. Moreover, a fatwa has been issued against him, which refers to him an ‘apostate’ who must ‘repent from Allah’, for supporting equal marriage.
Meanwhile, several Muslims have also been wary of his views on the Islamic veil (hijab and niqab) and how he has stressed, in relation to dealing with people in public service, that:
“... you should be able to see the face.”
This is also is where the problem lies. Are Muslims willing to support someone with such "progressive" views? After all, the veil and the LGBT cause are two of the most controversial topics within most, if not all, Muslim communities. At this point, the response across social media and other media outlets has proven that Muslims are definitely celebrating his victory.
However, it will be interesting to see how he is perceived after his views on the aforementioned issues become more visible outside the UK.
Similarly, his victory has resulted in the rise of another interesting question. Now that a Muslim has become the leader of a secular European city, will Muslims residing in Muslim states ever be willing to elect a non-Muslim leader? For example, in Pakistan, would the population ever consider a Hindu, Sikh, Christian, or even an Ahmadi as their own leader? Unfortunately, at this point in time, it seems highly unlikely that this is possible.
Nonetheless, if there is one key thing that ethnic minorities can learn from and agree on by observing the success of Sadiq Khan, it is that they can indeed succeed in the West. There is no doubt that they have to face several obstacles to achieving what he has achieved, and work significantly harder than others, but it is very much possible.
Hence, as the member of an ethnic minority group myself, I stress, and always will stress that we can whine, argue and complain about the lack of opportunities that we may have living in the West — or, we can strive to work five times harder, with much more dedication than those who have far more opportunities than us, and hope to reach a standing, much like Sadiq Khan’s. In this way, we can bring about positive change regarding the very issues that we hold dear.
It can be said that Sadiq Khan’s victory is not a victory for Brits, Muslims, Pakistanis or minorities alone; rather, it is a victory for most of humanity and the progression of humans as a species. To see a British-Pakistani elected, as the Mayor of London, is truly a moment to rejoice while hoping that more countries and cities promote these values of humanity and harmony.
After all, in the words of Sadiq Khan:
“Fear does not make us safer, it only makes us weaker, and the politics of fear is simply not welcome in our city.”
Or even in the world.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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