In light of recent events in London, the spotlight has been set more and more on London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Although many today revere him as one of the most formidable mayors in the world, Khan’s rise to power was a long and enduring one.
Here’s a quick look into how Sadiq Khan became the first muslim mayor of a major western world capital.
Khan came from humble beginnings as the son of immigrants. Khan’s parents immigrated from Pakistan in 1970. His father was a bus driver and his mother was a stay-at-home seamstress. Their family of 10 squeezed into a three-bedroom apartment in South London.
He first attended Fircroft Primary school and then Ernest Bevin School. For his A-levels, he studied math and science with his sights set on a career in dentistry.
But upon the suggestion of a teacher who recommended he study law as well as his obsession with the hit American TV show, L.A. Law, Khan quickly changed course and aggressively worked towards a career in law.
He graduated in 1991 with a degree in law from North London University and three years, joined human rights firm, Christian Fisher, where he worked on a myriad of high profile human rights cases often clashing with London Metropolitan’s police force.
However, the nature of such cases enabled Khan to quickly acquire social and political capital as he continued his journey.
However, in the back of his mind, he always had bigger political ambitions.
Only two months after Khan entered the commons as a member of parliament, London was attacked by Islamic extremists.
“That day will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Khan didn’t hesitate to speak out both as a London member of Parliament and as a Muslim.
“He has been very clear about his opposition to violence and his opposition to terrorism and has set out to make the case for a more open and peaceful Islam. Here is a man who has is a muslim and is standing up to be open and straight forward and being clear that the problem here isn’t islam but Islamic extremism. ”
-Bloomberg correspondent Thomas Penny
When Khan eventually ran for mayor of London, his faith was under scrutiny again. In fact his opponent, Zac Goldsmith tried to link Khan to Radical Islam.
Even the former prime minister David Cameron repeated the allegations:
“He shared a platform, with Sajil Shahid the man who trained the ringleader of the 7/7 attacks and accused the US of bringing 9/11 upon themselves.”
-Former Prime Minister David Cameron
Despite many efforts run from Zac Goldsmith and his campaign, the fear mongering tactics and smears of negativity failed to stick, the people of London knew the rhetoric to be plagued with lies and inevitably voted for Khan in masses.
The people knew that the accusations and rhetoric used by the Goldsmith
Upon the eve of his victory, Khan remarks,
“This election was not without controversy. And I’m so proud that London has today chosen hope over fear, and unity over division.”
After taking the new office of mayor, Khan has brought shrewd business-like efficiency to the role scrapping expensive vanity projects like the garden bridge and the new route-master busses that cost $350,000 each.
Even as Mayor, Khan has kept his faith a cornerstone of his life, standing as an outspoken voice for moderate muslims across the world.
In times like these when Islamaphobia may be at its peak, we are proud and stand in solidarity alongside leaders like Sadiq Khan, who dedicate their lives to the service of others and represents a beacon of light and an amplified voice for muslims around the world.