Newspaper article International New York Times

Sadiq Khan vs. Donald Trump

Newspaper article International New York Times

Sadiq Khan vs. Donald Trump

Article excerpt

The many-faceted identity of the Muslim elected Mayor of London reflects the 21st century far more than a bullying white man who wants to build walls.

The most important political event of recent weeks was not the emergence of Donald J. Trump as the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party but the electoral victory of Sadiq Khan, the Muslim son of a London bus driver, who will become the next mayor of London.

Trump has not won any kind of political office yet, but Khan, the Labour Party candidate, crushed Zac Goldsmith, a conservative, to take charge of one of the world's great cities, a vibrant metropolis where every tongue is heard. In his victory, a triumph over the slurs that tried to tie him to Islamist extremism, Khan stood up for openness against isolationism, integration against confrontation, opportunity for all against racism and misogyny. He was the anti- Trump.

Before the election, Khan told my colleague Stephen Castle, "I'm a Londoner, I'm a European, I'm British, I'm English, I'm of Islamic faith, of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, a dad, a husband."

The world of the 21st century is going to be shaped by such elided, many- faceted identities and by the booming cities that celebrate diversity, not by some bullying, brash, bigoted, "America first" white dude who wants to build walls.

It is worth noting that under the ban on Muslim noncitizens entering the country that Trump proposes, Khan would not be allowed to visit the United States. To use one of Trump's favorite phrases, this would be a "complete and total disaster." It would make America a foul mockery in the eyes of a world already aghast at the Republican candidate's rise.

Khan's election is important because it gives the lie to the facile trope that Europe is being taken over by jihadi Islamists. It underscores the fact that terrorist acts hide a million quiet success stories among European Muslim communities. One of seven children of a Pakistani immigrant family, Khan grew up in public housing and went on to become a human rights lawyer and government minister. He won more than 1.3 million votes in the London election, a personal mandate unsurpassed by any politician in British history.

His election is important because the most effective voices against Islamist terrorism come from Muslims, and Khan has been prepared to speak out. After the Paris attacks last year, he said in a speech that Muslims had a "special role" to play in countering the terrorism "not because we are more responsible than others, as some have wrongly claimed, but because we can be more effective at tackling extremism than anyone else. …

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