LONDON — Residents of London have elected the city’s first ever Muslim mayor, choosing to elect the Labor Party’s Sadiq Khan over the Conservative Party’s Zac Goldsmith 56 to 43 percent.
Goldsmith had been characterized as being “negative” and “dirty” for alleging that Khan had ties to Islamic terrorists. Khan accused Goldsmith of trying to frighten voters and cause division in a city that is inhabited by over a million Muslims.
“The Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith repeatedly attacked Sadiq Khan as someone who had fraternized and shared platforms with Muslim extremists,” reports Al Jezeera. “Sadiq Khan and Labour’s response was very angry, they said that the Conservatives were playing a subtle and even not so subtle, Islamophobic and racist campaign.”
Prime Minister David Cameron had also expressed concerns, alleging that Khan had shared a platform with an ISIS supporter, to which Khan replied via Twitter, “Disappointed PM has joined Zac Goldsmith’s divisive, dog-whistling campaign. I’ve fought extremism all my life.”
Some Conservative Party members believe that the arugments over Khan’s religion are what led to Goldsmith’s defeat.
“I was supportive of the whole campaign apart from one element and that one was where it seemed to attribute radical tendencies to people of orthodox religious views,” said Assembly Member Andrew Boff.
“I think that is a complete misunderstanding of the patchwork of faiths there are in London, and has the potential to alienate people and say that people who do have orthodox religious views, conservative religious views, are for some reason not welcome and won’t be listened to,” he opined.
Khan has dubbed himself “the British Muslim who will take the fight to the extremists,” and is a former human rights attorney who has also once served as a member of Parliament. According to reports, he was sworn in on the Koran by the Queen in 2009.
“The palace called me and said, ‘What type of Bible do you want to swear on?’ When I said the Koran, they said, ‘We haven’t got one.’ So I took one with me,” he told the New Statesman.
Khan was sworn in on Saturday during a multi-faith ceremony at the Southwark Cathedral, an Anglican house of worship in the city. He received a standing ovation from those gathered, including professing Christians.
“This election was not without controversy, and I am so proud that London has today chosen hope over fear and unity over division,” Khan said. “Fear does not make us safer, it only makes us weaker, and the politics of fear is not welcome in our city.”
Britain First candidate Paul Golding, however, is stated to be among those who turned their back during Khan’s speech, and a member of his staff shouted, “Britain has an extremist mayor!”
The party released a statement decrying the increase of Muslims in the area.
“[A]s became blatantly obvious with the election of Labor’s Islamist mayor, there is an increasingly shrinking number of Britons left in the capital overall and far too many Muslims,” it said. “Britons make up less than 45% of the capital and at least half of those who remain will be the ‘trendy’ leftwing chattering class types, the gormless liberals and bigoted white socialists in areas such as Camden, Islington etc.”
“With such a small and rapidly declining pool of voters to appeal to we rightly said this election was London’s ‘Last Stand’ and the prospects of major gains, even with major resources, were slim.”