Sadiq Khan: The ‘Muslim’ Mayor of London

Where is my Mayor of London Prize?

The new Mayor of London - Sadiq Khan

The new Mayor of London – Sadiq Khan – Pic courtesy

One of my favourite stand-up comedians of all time (Chris Rock) once said the Black Community in America were so jubilant when O.J Simpson was acquitted for conspiring to kill his wife so much so that one would think there was a price attached to the acquittal. In his words: “Everyday, I look in the mail box for my O.J price; NOTHING!”

It appears to be the same with people of minority in the city of London. So we have a new Mayor in London, and he’s muslim of Pakistani heritage. We Won! But what did we win? The only thing muslims from all over the world see right now is that a muslim is the CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF ONE OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS, MOST POWERFUL CITIES IN THE WORLD – the Mayor of London.  All of a sudden, some parts of the country are seeing Sadiq Khan as ‘the new Obama’. I wouldn’t go that far people, for we might be sorely disappointed in the long run.

This election has been one of the nastiest I have ever witnessed, and understandably so. Mr Khan being a non-white candidate made for such an explosive run-in to yesterday’s finale. Fear mongering by the ever effective Conservative machine of David Cameron was on overdrive. We were meant to search our consciences and determine if we truly wanted to elect a man who has ‘shared a platform with convicted terrorists’ as the Mayor of London. No matter who you are, that made you think deeply. But it backfired spectacularly; Londoners ignored the ‘warnings’ and Sadiq Khan ran away with 1.3 million votes. I say it again, 1.3 million votes. That’s A LOT!!!

Winning was a huge slap on the face to the Tories and many other voters who swallowed the fear narrative. During his victory speech, Paul Golding the leader of Britain First (a far right movement) turned his back on the podium as a sign of protest. Mr Golding is well-known for his stance on Islam – he wants it banned in his country, Britain.

Extreme? I think so but let’s get back to the subject of Sadiq Khan who has had so many hurdles to cross to land the price. He has more hurdles still. So what have ‘we won’? Black people jubilated like it was Christmas when Obama won the presidential race in America. Scenes around the world showed people throwing street parties, carnivals and there was even talk about an African nation that declared that day a public holiday. Right now, the feeling has changed, at least for black americans. For today, Barrack Obama is known as ‘the coolest president of America’. Not the bravest, or the most loved, or the smartest, or the most effective; the coolest. Is that a praise or an indictment? You tell me. With all the fanfare surrounding his election, I certainly was expecting him to be known as the smartest, most loved president America ever had. However, Obamacare, his stance on same-sex marriage, Guantanamo-Bay and many other policies has effectively put an end to that. What Obama does best is now to appear cool, do a couple of stand-ups and memes and ‘diss’ his detractors.

You know why? I’ll tell you why……. He has not been able to carry out every well-meaning policy for his country; because like in every Democracy, his hands have been tied. He fought hard for Obamacare, he fought hard to close Guantanamo-Bay, but his hands were tied at every turn. So my man has decided to enjoy the last months of his presidency doing stand-ups and jokes. I love Obama, I think he’s a ‘Cool dude’ – see what happened there? Most people know him as a COOL DUDE. He meant well for his country, but he was never to have the opportunity to carry out his plans. It wouldn’t have happened. It is hard enough for a white, upper-class American, talk less the son of a migrant Kenyan.

Now back to Sadiq Khan, it will be wise if he expects basically the same treatment in city hall. And if bureaucracy and hand wrangling proved true, then we have NOT WON ANYTHING. Sadiq Khan has been accused (mainly by the Tories) as a terrorist  apologist. Ouch! As part of his job as a human rights solicitor, he has defended some ‘alleged Islamist extremists’ I understand that.

At a recent funeral, he stopped to shake the hands of convicted terrorist Babar Ahmad; a man who has been blamed for inspiring a generation of extremists; a man who has served 8 years (without trial) behind bars in the UK and was sentenced to 12 years in America for terrorism conspiracy crimes. Khan’s detractors went into over drive, and that is where the label of him sharing ‘a platform with a terrorist’ came from. Now thinking about it, is shaking hands a crime? Was he acknowledging Babar Ahmad or was he just being courteous? I don’t know, do you?

As part of the fear campaign, the Tories stated that The Mayor of London plays a highly important role in supporting the police especially in the event of a paris-style terrorist attack where the police have plans to deploy 10,000 troops. They wanted voters to think deeply about who they vote for. They  want a London Mayor who can unite the city; someone who does not ‘exhibit extreme views’. As far as I am concerned, this is a LEGITIMATE POINT.

The Mayor of London is the second most powerful political office in the UK with a metro population of 14 million, a GDP of $700 billion,  which is 22% of UK GDP. This translates to a financial equivalent of the whole of Turkey or Switzerland; a formidable city. Surely, anyone tasked with leading such a powerful city must be SQUEAKY CLEAN and have no attachments whatsoever to anything or anyone dodgy. Therefore, it is very legitimate for the opposition party to question his allegiance to the state and the country as a whole. Pure and simple.

Personally, I believe Sadiq Khan’s profession as a lawyer has made him say and do things that come naturally to solicitors. Doesn’t necessarily means he supports terrorists; but hey, I don’t live in his house, so I don’t know. He had every right to run for that election; if you are born here, and you live here, and you pay taxes here, and you love ‘here’ you have automatically acquired that right. I have kids who also qualify. One thing though, I will warn my kids to watch what they say, and who they say it to as well as who they associate with IF they ever have plans to go into politics in this country.

So, as the new Mayor of London, what does Sadiq Khan’s election mean to me and my favourite subject, business? Well, Mr Khan is quite opposite to Boris Johnson( former Mayor of London) and David Cameron (I like him too) in the sense that their upbringing was stark. Cameron was a rich kid, the son of a wealthy stockbroker, and with Khan we have all heard of his simple upbringing – son of a bus driver bla bla. Based on this, it was hoped that Sadiq Khan will do more for business in London and so far his utterances and body language seem to suggest he will. “I will be the most pro-business Mayor London has ever had” he once said “I will also work with businesses to help them be good employers, ensuring as many people as possible can be paid a £10-an-hour London Living Wage” …….”With me as Mayor, business will always have a seat at the table and a BIG say in the best way forward for our city” Sadiq Khan in his campaigns said he will set up a Business Advisory Board to shape policy towards business. These board will consist of independent business leaders, basically real experts. ….. BRAVO!!! I could do the jig right now if i didn’t know better.

Remember our friend Obama across the pond? Yes, he promised a lot too, he meant well too, he too was accused of sympathising with extremists, he too has a some-what islamic name and did we win anything with him? I think you know the answer.

Obama had his hands tied at every turn, so will Sadiq Khan. And in the end,  Obama decided to play it safe, so will Sadiq Khan if he wants to avoid being criticised for breathing air.

Congratulations Mr Sadiq Khan on being elected as the Mayor of London.

Kole Obasa


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