N. S. Venkataraman
There are many cities in the world that are as big, and have a reputation and great history, as London. The mayors of these cities are elected or appointed at regular intervals and these are rarely reported in the international media. In the light of such circumstances, it is conspicuous that the election of Mr. Sadhiq Khan as Mayor of London is hitting the headlines in the print and visual media all over the world.
Obviously, the election of Mr. Khan has received so much publicity because he is a Muslim. This aspect only highlights the fact that the world community in general and media in particular are still obsessed with regard to the religion of individuals and this, perhaps, implies that there may even be an element of prejudice in taking note of the religion of any particular person.Instead of speaking about any particular achievements or praiseworthy efforts of Mr. Khan, which may have enabled him to become Mayor of London, the media are interpreting his election as vindictive of London’s reputation as secular and inclusive capital. Perhaps, the victory of the incumbent would have gone unnoticed, if he were not to a Muslim.
The media’s reporting further highlights the fact that out of the population of 8 million in London, 3 million people constitute ethnic minorities and election of Mr. Khan could have been largely facilitated by the support from ethnic minorities, since Mr. Khan belongs to ethnic minority group. If this were to be the reason for the election of Mr. Khan, this cannot enhance the reputation of London city as an inclusive capital, but instead may create an impression that the London city is emotionally divided by the ethnicity of the population.
Further, the conservative opponent of Mr. Khan carried out what looks to be a vicious campaign against Mr. Khan, pointing out in so many ways that he is a Muslim and may harbor sympathies and may have links with Islamic extremists.
The fact that Mr. Khan has roots in Pakistan may have motivated his critics to plant misgivings in the mind of the people that his background is suspicious in view of the dominant presence of Muslim extremists in Pakistan.
While Mr. Khan has been elected as Mayor of London, the type of vicious campaign carried out against him in view of the religion that he belongs to, can make one suspect that London may not be such an inclusive capital.
Now, the ball is clearly in the court of Mr. Khan, who has the arduous task of proving his critics wrong and keeping himself much above ethnic politics that has happened in London in the wake of the mayoral poll.
While the activities of ISIS and extremist Islamic outfits and the recent terrorist attacks carried out by them have created a huge embarrassment for the Muslim population around the world and particularly for those who have become the citizens in the USA and other European countries, Muslims now have the onerous task of doubly proving their loyalty to their country.
Mr. Khan now has the challenge and opportunity to remain as a rallying point for Muslims who bear no ill will towards other religions and who can win the confidence of the public in western countries. – Eurasia Review
N. S. Venkataraman