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London's Muslim Mayor Tells Donald Trump That His Offer Sucks

When asked how a US Muslim entry ban would affect London's new mayor, Sadiq Khan, Trump said there would always be exceptions. You're going to have to do a hell of a lot better than that, said Khan.

by Miriam Wells
May 10 2016, 12:30pm

Sadiq Khan prononce son discours après sa victoire. Photo de Andy Rain/EPA

With a bit of tweaking, Donald Trump's latest contribution to the public debate could be fashioned into his very own Animal Farm commandment: "All Muslims are unwelcome, but some Muslims are less unwelcome than others."

The controversial presidential candidate has made it clear that his United States would not be a Islam-friendly America early in his campaign when he proposed an outright ban on Muslims entering the country — but following the election of Muslim politician Sadiq Khan as London mayor last week, Trump graciously suggested he would bend the rules in his case.

When asked by the New York Times how the proposed ban would affect Khan — who is the son of Pakistani immigrants to the UK — the property tycoon said there would "always be exceptions."

Trump went so far as to say he was "happy" that Khan, a member of Britain's opposition Labour Party, would be leading London. "If he does a good job and frankly if he does a great job, that would be a terrific thing," he said.

On Tuesday, Khan, who had a working class upbringing and beat a millionaire banking heir by a record margin to take the mayoralty, told Trump what he thought of the kind offer: No thanks.

"This isn't just about me. It's about my friends, my family, and everyone who comes from a background similar to mine, anywhere in the world," he said in a statement.

Related: A Muslim Bus Driver's Son Has Just Beaten a Millionaire Banking Heir to Become the Mayor of London

"Donald Trump's ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe — it risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of the extremists," said Khan, who worked as a civil rights lawyer before entering politics.

"Donald Trump and those around him think that Western liberal values are incompatible with mainstream Islam — London has proved him wrong."

Rich, white, conservative politicians insinuating that all Muslims carry an inherent risk of terrorism has particular prescience for Khan — his rival for mayor, Zac Goldsmith, is a scion of a banking dynasty whose own mayoral campaign sought to highlight his competitor's alleged links to extremism.

Khan was repeatedly rebuked and questioned over the fact he had appeared at events aimed at the Muslim community at which radicals were also allowed to speak, which was cited as evidence he was untrustworthy. Letters and leaflets were also published warning people from Britain's Indian, Tamil, and South Asian communities that Khan did not have their interests at heart.

One article written by Goldsmith days before the election claimed that Khan legitimized extremist views, accompanied by a photograph of a bus bombed in London's July 2007 terror attacks.

Goldsmith's campaign has since been lambasted by fellow politicians — including senior members of the ruling Conservative Party which he belongs to — as divisive and counterproductive. Former Conservative party chairman Sayeeda Warsi called it an "appalling dog whistle campaign" while Mohammed Amin, the chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum, said he was "disgusted."

The new mayor, who is the fifth of eight children to a bus driver and a seamstress, told the Observer on Sunday: "[Goldsmith's team] used fear and innuendo to try to turn different ethnic and religious groups against each other — something straight out of the Donald Trump playbook."

In his victory speech, he said London, which is home to more than 1 million Muslims and whose population is more than 40 percent non-white, had chosen "hope over fear and united over division."

In an interview with Time magazine published on Tuesday, Khan said the election showed there was no clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. "I am the West, I am a Londoner, I'm British, I'm of Islamic faith, Asian origin, Pakistan heritage, so whether it's [Islamic State] or these others who want to destroy our way of life and talk about the West, they're talking about me," he said. "What better antidote to the hatred they spew than someone like me being in this position?"

Yet Khan still faced being banned from the US by virtue of his faith, he said, adding: "Clearly [I'll visit] before January in case Donald Trump wins."

Follow Miriam Wells on Twitter: @missmbc