Global Independent Analytics

Britain's ruling party defends linking Muslim London mayor to extremism

Efforts by Britain's Conservatives to link the new London mayor to Muslim extremism during campaigning for the capital's election were just part of the "rough and tumble" of politics, a senior minister said

Kate Holton for Reuters reports: As politicians from all sides lined up to condemn his party's tactics in the mayoral race won by Sadiq Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants and the first Muslim to hold the job, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon refused to apologise.

"In the rough and tumble of elections, you get stuff said, questions asked," Fallon told the BBC when asked if he regretted describing Khan as a "Labour lackey" who speaks alongside extremists.

"I think it is right that candidates for some of the most important offices in Britain do get scrutinised about their past associations."

British Conservatives including David Cameron have already questioned whether London would be safe being run by the 45-year-old Kahn, a Labour Party lawmaker. However, some suggested that the focus on Kahn’s religion had backfired in a city noted for its diversity and which is one of the world's top financial centres. Britain remains largely free of the identity politics seen in the United States.

A former human rights lawyer, Khan, said he had fought extremism all his life and regretted sharing a stage with speakers who held "abhorrent" views.

"This election was not without controversy, and I am so proud that London has today chosen hope over fear and unity over division," Khan said in a short speech after the results were announced early on Saturday. "I hope that we will never be offered such a stark choice again."

“Khan's victory makes him the first Muslim to head a major Western capital, presiding over such issues as policing, transport and housing for 8.6 million people. The mayor does not run the City of London financial district but can try to influence the government in lobbying for the capital,” concludes Holton.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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