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London’s first Muslim mayor calls Trump ‘ignorant’ and supports Clinton

Newly elected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
(Hannah McKay / European Pressphoto Agency )

The new mayor of London isn’t shy about weighing in on U.S. politics. Days into his new job, Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city, called Donald Trump’s view of Islam “ignorant” and threw his weight behind Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Khan said that the Republican presidential hopeful was playing into the hands of extremists. “Daesh, ISIS, all those guys, hate the fact that I am mayor of London,” he told the New York Times. “Why? Because it contradicts what they say, which is that Western liberal values are incompatible with Islam.”

In interviews with U.S. media this week, the new mayor said he has no doubt whom he would cast his vote for if he were American. Khan urged U.S. voters to take a leaf out of Londoners’ book and choose “hope over fear” by electing the country’s first female president.

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The human rights lawyer-turned-politician said that he is a proud feminist and that Clinton would be an incredible role model for women and girls worldwide, including his two daughters.

Khan has been outspoken against Trump’s proposed “total and complete” ban on all Muslims entering the United States. Trump’s comments were received so negatively in Britain that lawmakers debated whether to ban him from the country, after an online petition to do so amassed more than half a million votes.

On Wednesday, Trump backpedaled, saying that the ban was “only a suggestion” and that he could also make an exception when it came to Khan.

But the new mayor, who was born in London to Pakistani parents, dismissed the offer bluntly.

“I’m not exceptional,” he said in an interview with CNN. “So for Donald Trump to say, oh, Mayor Khan can be allowed but not the rest is ridiculous.”

He cited the British businesspeople, young people and tourists seeking to work, live in or visit the U.S. who would be negatively affected if Trump’s idea became reality.

Khan also said he had friends and relatives in the U.S. and happy memories of family vacations to Disneyland with his kids.

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“It’s not just about me. It’s about the message it sends from the greatest country in the world. And what is the story of America?” Khan said. “I think Donald Trump doesn’t get the history of America.”

Khan was named mayor of London on Friday, winning 57% of the vote compared with 43% for his closest rival, Conservative candidate Zach Goldsmith.

TRAIL GUIDE: All the latest news on the 2016 presidential campaign >>

The victory makes him the elected leader of a capital that is home to 8.6 million people, more than 1 million of whom are Muslim.

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Goldsmith has been accused of running a divisive, racist campaign, during which he referenced Khan’s religion and suggested London would become less safe under Khan’s leadership.

During his acceptance speech, Khan pointedly chose to celebrate the fact that those arguments did not prevail. Writing in the Observer newspaper the day after his victory, he has accused the Conservative Party of using a “Donald Trump playbook.”

Khan has, however, also been quick to stress that he does not seek to be a spokesperson for Muslims, but for the whole city.

“In 2016 we are all global citizens, we have multiple identities,” Khan told CNN. “I’m a Londoner, I’m British, I’m European, I’m a father, I’m a dad. I’m of Islamic faith, I’m of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, so no one thing defines who we are.”

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Khan says he welcomes the chance to meet with some of his counterparts across the pond, such as New York’s Bill de Blasio or Rahm Emanuel in Chicago -- but those meetings might have to take place before January, if Trump wins the nomination, and then the election.

“If Donald Trump becomes the president, I’ll be stopped from going there by virtue of my faith, which means I can’t engage with American mayors and swap ideas,” Khan said in an interview with Time magazine published Monday, in which he directly challenged Trump’s anti-Muslim comments. “Conservative tacticians thought those sorts of tactics would win London and they were wrong. I’m confident that Donald Trump’s approach to politics won’t win in America.”

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Boyle is a special correspondent.


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