Last week, Sadiq Khan, London’s new Muslim mayor, made his first dent as an internationally recognized political figure. Instead of tackling key issues on his homefront, he chose to antagonize half of the American people in an already contentious presidential election.
Stateside, Trump campaign is fumbling with an on-again, off-again blanket immigration ban on Muslims. Exploiting the GOP nominee’s under-developed platform for his own exposure, Khan fired at Trump’s “ignorant” view of Islam. Khan crafted an opportunity to slam Trump by stating that he’d planned to visit the U.S. ahead of the November election should Trump win the presidency. Khan’s calculated statement provoked journalists to scramble to clarify the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s already opaque immigration policy.
For his part, though, Trump had said he was “happy to see” Khan win the election, adding that he hoped “he does a good job.” But for those who have already questioned Khan’s association with extremists and his choice to defend the rights of radicals who have condemned the West and secular values, it is a grim sign of things to come. Within two weeks of becoming the first Muslim mayor of one of the world’s most coveted cities, Khan has already incited division through race and religion.
During Khan’s campaign, Prime Minister David Cameron was verbally assaulted as a racist for trying to raise a conversation about the then-candidate’s alarming sympathy for and interaction with Islamists and radicals. Rather than quell the issue by taking the opportunity to shed the myth that attacks are race-based, Khan allowed them to continue. He was in a position to address the issue of race and disqualify valid concerns as racist, while still being able to dismiss the inquiries into his past as perhaps unreasonable – but he chose not to.
On the issue of religion, Khan fanned the flames of religious intolerance, reaffirming reservations about his ability to separate his faith from his responsibility to represent all Londoners. Instead of taking on the great task at hand of managing London, Khan engages in verbal warfare with a U.S. presidential nominee, escalating what has been a necessary policy discussion into an accusation of an assault on Islam – with a global audience.