Just by reporting this story we’ll be branded “Islamophobic” but no matter what your views about “the religion of peace” you will no doubt find this somewhat of a shock.
The United Kingdom’s largest city, one of the financial capitals of the world, the epicenter of the Swinging Sixties, home to Queen Elizabeth and Buckingham Palace – yes London, is set to elect a Muslim as its mayor.
Talk about a changing of the guard!
As Yahoo News reports, Sadiq Khan of opposition Labour Party is the strong favourite to win London’s mayoral election on Thursday after a contest marked by religious tensions and accusations of racism.
Polls show Khan, the son of a bus driver, is as much as 20 percentage points ahead of rival Conservative Zac Goldsmith in the race to run one of the world’s top financial centres. If he wins, he will succeed current Conservative mayor Boris Johnson to become the first Muslim to head a major Western capital.
But Goldsmith, with the support of Prime Minister David Cameron, has for weeks focused on Khan’s faith and past appearances alongside radical Muslim speakers, accusing him of giving “platform, oxygen and cover” to extremists.
Former human rights lawyer Khan says he has fought extremism all his life and regrets sharing a stage with speakers who held “abhorrent” views.
He has accused Goldsmith, the elite-educated son of a billionaire financier, of using Donald Trump-style tactics to divide Londoners along faith lines, as well as being part of an out-of-touch wealthy elite.
Muslims currently make up 5 percent of the U.K population, but some parts of London are now almost 50 per cent Islamic, according to analysis from the Office for National Statistics.
In July of 2005, London was hit with its worst terror attack since the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and was its first Islamic suicide attack. Three bombs were detonated on the London Underground and one on a double-decker bus killing 56 and injuring 700 during the morning rush hour.
In May of 2013, British soldier Lee Rigby was hacked to death in broad daylight by two Islamist extremists.
And of course, the infamous executioner, “Jihadi John,” lived in London from the age of six, even graduating college from the University of Westminster before becoming the ISIS video star – now deceased.
As you surely know, the Muslim “refugee crisis” all across Europe has caused numerous problems, not least among them an increase in crime, rape and other violence. In fact, the influx of Muslims into Europe may well be the straw that breaks the back of the European Union as countries struggle to absorb hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
The UK is scheduled to have its own referendum on whether or not to remain in the union. Khan wants to stay while his opponent wants to leave.
Both candidates promise they’ll fight for London’s interests no matter which way the referendum goes.
While the mayoral position is for the most part domestic, It is the political influence that comes with the post, the second-largest direct electoral mandate of any politician in Europe, that is perhaps most at stake.
“The soft power of the role is very important,” said Tony Travers a professor at the London School of Economics. “The mandate of a city as big as London gives the mayor a voice and authority which goes well beyond that formal mandate.”
It is astonishing that London, for decades the seat of Western power in Europe – and for a time, the world – should now have a Muslim voice. Will they now be singing “God Save the Queen, inshallah?”
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]