Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Sadiq Khan, London's New Mayor

Sadiq Khan recently won London's mayoral campaign. Much like the craziness of the current U.S. elections, the conservative Mayoral candidate, Zac Goldsmith went to great lengths to smear his opponent. He targeted Khan's religion and background. Cameron also did the same. While riding on his supporters' fear of an imagined nefarious ISIS plot to take over London with Khan somehow being a closeted extremist. Throughout the campaign, Goldsmith returned to the tired argument that somehow British Muslims who are second and third generation Britons, are an enemy within London and Britain. Khan kept calm and focused on reiterating his platform on housing and improving city infrastructure and local issues affecting ordinary Londoners. At the end, ordinary Londoners were having none of the fear factor cloud their choice of candidate. Much to the shock of Goldsmith, Members of Parliament and some Londoners, Sadiq Khan was elected as London Mayor on Saturday, May 11th.

The new mayor of London Sadiq Khan with his printed Manifesto

What makes Sadiq Khan unique, is he is British, was born in and is from London, was a MP for his home town of Tooting, understands the intricate workings of politics, is the son of a bus driver, grow up in housing council, has survived the smear campaign and is Muslim. Despite his background, he has succeeded. He has said he would not visit the United States if Trump becomes president (due to Trump's views on Islam) and he wouldn't be the only mayor or politician to do the same. He has already stood up to Trump's foolish by calling out his ignorance on Islam. Khan is tough as all city mayors have to be with the stress and expectations that comes with governing a city of millions of people. The Western media is both surprised and interested in Khan's win and what his next step will be. Khan will have a lot on his plate to manage. Not only is there a housing shortage in London, economic challenges, the gross gap between the wealthy and poor continues to get bigger on a daily basis, he will also be looking at a possible Brexit from the European Union, increased in migration with the coming summer, foreign policy issues, international trade and finances. This is just a few of many more issues. All the while, Khan will need to keep Londoners' needs met and problems to a minimal. Currently, Khan is getting adjusted to his new office is meeting with follow mayors from Europe (Paris Mayor Katherine Hidalgo met with him already) and interviewing with journalists. Meanwhile Khan's old MP seat for Tooting is being sought after by doctors.

London isn't a simple cup of tea

Everyday faces of London. As in any big city, crowds of people are moving and standing still. The media image of the city doesn't match the reality.

 London is one of the largest cities in Europe in terms of its metropolitan size and population. It is home to 8.6 million people of which 1 million is Muslim. Cities change overtime. Modern London isn't the time warp 1960s, Austin Powers jolly England. Anyone who visits the city knows Londoners are ethnically diverse representing Africa, Asia, the Americas and continental Europe of course. Contrary to the alarmist Far right, multicultural diversity isn't seen as a nightmare by the city. Most visitors would be surprised that people aren't rushing off to noon time tea, that the red iconic telephone booth is all but gone from the street corners (the few that remain around Parliament) and the cute double decker buses are just like other modern city buses. The tube still exists as it has done for a 150+ years. You won't see Londoners jumping up and down for the royal family. As for the cockney accent, it has been scattered and shares room with multiple British accents (colloquial English, the BBC accent isn't part of everyday speech) in the city. London has over 300+ languages spoken. The most popular foods are kebab, curry, pizza, Caribbean cuisine ie Jerk Chicken, fish and chips. Indian food has now become the national dish of Britain.

Mayor Khan's first speech following the elections

The Far right and the moderate conservatives and non political nationalists are equally stunned but are nervous that a Muslim if one wants to bring religion up, is the head of a major European city. Keep in mind that Netherlands' second largest city Rotterdam has a Muslim mayor. Yet the right wing and nationalists are not spontaneously combusting over it. The religious smear hid a much deeper fear of a non white majority London. Groups like PEGIDA, Golden Dawn, Lega Nord, Front Nationale and the English Defense League have been on the defensive when it comes London and British identity (and wider European identity) considering the recent events around the world. The ongoing migration crisis and movement of new people to Britain and other parts of Europe who are non-White, some Christians, indigenous religions and mostly Muslim have frightened many European nationalists and citizens whose fears have reached alarmist portions. Many but not all, Europeans (especially in the West) fear a changing Europe. A more multicultural and multi ethnic Europe that mirrors the continent's medieval history. To Islam is not new to Europe. African and Asians have been entering and exiting Europe for centuries. Neither is African and Asian migration

When the Moors ruled Europe

There is nothing wrong with nationalism and having pride in one's culture and . It's when the nationalism infuses with violent xenophobia and bombastic politician/businessman speeches that border on fascism and encourages thug/hooligan style violence that's when nationalism becomes a problem

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