This week in London, voters defied a rising tide of Islamophobia, making history by electing Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, as Mayor of their city.
“I’m determined to lead the most transparent government London has ever seen,” Khan said in his acceptance speech. “I wanted to do the signing in ceremony here, in the very heart of our city surrounded by Londoners of all backgrounds. I promise to do everything I can. I will be the Mayor for all of us.”
News Analyist and GroundTruth Project co-founder Charles Sennott joined Jim and Margery on Boston Public Radio to discuss this historic election and the impact it will have across the Western world.
“Sadiq Khan is a uniquely great candidate, who has been very elegant, very measured, he came at this through the prism of his daughters, who he talks about all the time in the context of moderate Islam, and how important it is for the world, and also for his daughters,” Sennott said. “He managed to humanize a sense of being a Muslim, a Londoner, and someone fit to be Mayor”
“What I love is that he is literally a featherweight boxer,” Sennott said. “He boxes, his brothers coach boxing, he’s a boxer and if you compare him to the “heavyweight” [Former Mayor] Boris Johnson…some of these others seem like heavyweights, but this guy can really land a punch, so deftly. He’s such a good politician, I think he’s someone to really watch.”
Khan is the Labour Party candidate and the highest-ranking Muslim official in Europe. “He’s certainly the most visible Muslim elected,” Sennott said.
According to Sennott, this election comes at a particularly volatile period for Muslims, especially in Europe. “[This comes] right at a time when we fear that also in Europe you’re going to see an intensifying of pushing the Muslim communities out,” Sennott said. “They have not been integrated the way Muslim communities in America are, it’s just the truth of Europe that there aren’t hyphenated Europeans. You just don’t hear about Egyptian-British or Pakistani-British, you hear about their own culture is what they care the most about, and in that very protective sphere of caring about their culture, there’s now just a very obvious recognition that the Muslim minority is becoming so considerable in London. It’s a wonderful reflection of their city, that they have this new Mayor… it’s certainly an interesting start to his mayoralty.”
To hear more from Charles Sennott, tune in to Boston Public Radio at the audio link above.