It’s been a historic weekend for London. In a close – and heated – election, the UK capital has elected its first Muslim Mayor.
The race was between two very different candidates: for the right-wing Conservatives was the Eton-educated son-of-a-billionaire Conservative Zac Goldsmith; on the left with the Labour Party was Sadiq Khan, a Muslim candidate whose father was a bus driver who migrated to the UK from Pakistan.
Religion had become a factor in the campaign mostly thanks to the questionable tactics of Khan’s Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith. He came under heavy criticism for suggesting links between Khan and Islamic extremism - despite the fact that Khan hadn’t focused much on Islam during his campaign.
In his speech following the win, Khan made reference to his roots and the bitterness of the mayoral race.
London has long prided itself on being a diverse city with countless nationalities and religions.
Muslims make up 12% of London’s population and the mayoral acceptance speech was made at an interfaith ceremony in a church.
Islamophobia is on the rise. But the movement countering it and tolerance is rising along with it.— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) 7 May 2016
Election of #SadiqKhan illustrates this.
Leaders around the world congratulated Khan on his win:
Son of a Pakistani bus driver, champion of workers' rights and human rights, and now Mayor of London. Congrats, @SadiqKhan. -H— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) 7 May 2016
Sending congratulations to London's new Mayor and fellow affordable housing advocate, @SadiqKhan. Look forward to working together!— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) 6 May 2016
Félicitations à @SadiqKhan, élu Maire de Londres! Convaincue que son humanisme & son progressisme bénéficieront aux Londoniens!— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) 6 May 2016
Of course, the policies of one potential President would likely prove rather troublesome in diplomatic relations with London’s new Mayor.
So if Donald Trump gets elected, the mayor of London won't be allowed to visit the US. https://t.co/IWlgoFyxw8— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) 7 May 2016
Among Khan’s “critics” – or more specifically the handful of Islamophobes who took umbrage with his religion – the availability of pork products were apparently a major concern.
Katie Hopkins had pledged to run up Regent Street with a sausage up her bum if Khan was elected, apparently on the basis that processed meats were the most offensive accessory for Brits of Pakistani descent. She’d also furthered claims that Muslim turnout was 130%, though it’s not clear what evidence those accusations were founded on.
*stomps off to buy sausage* ...When will people learn. Muslim turnout in many boroughs at 130%— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) 6 May 2016
Khan is of Pakistani heritage, so his election also drew considerable attention in Pakistan.
While many celebrated the win, some felt it drew attention to the inequalities in Pakistani society – asking if a working-class candidate from a religious minority could hope for the same kind of electoral victory in Karachi.
Pakistani: Sadiq Khan won!— Bina Shah (@BinaShah) 6 May 2016
Reporter: So you'd vote for a minority immigrant son of a bus driver as Mayor of Karachi?
Pakistani: Are you mad?
Other British politicians with the same (quite specific) roots as Khan offered their congratulations.
Sayeeda Warsi and Sajid Javid are members of the Conservative Party.
And Zac Goldsmith, who was beaten at the polls by Khan?
He managed to summon a recognition of his rival’s success… if not an outright congratulations.
No-one likes a sore loser, Zac.
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