London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, has said he will visit the US before this year’s presidential elections “in case Donald Trump wins”, in a reference to the presumptive Republican nominee’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the country.
Khan, who last week became the first Muslim mayor in a major western capital, expressed admiration for his counterparts in New York and Chicago and said he wanted to meet them.
But in an interview with Time magazine, he said: “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.”
Drawing a link between Trump’s comments and the mayoral campaign, which saw his Tory rival, Zac Goldsmith, criticised for attempts to link him to extremism, Khan added: “Conservative [party] tacticians thought those sort of tactics would win London and they were wrong. I’m confident that Donald Trump’s approach to politics won’t win in America.”
In December, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack in California. He said there was such hatred among Muslims towards Americans that it was necessary to stop them coming to the US until the problem was better understood.
Khan praised the mayorships of Bill de Blasio in New York and Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, both of whom are Democrats. He expressed interest in the housing policies of De Blasio, who has sought to preserve his city’s stock of affordable housing and has championed an investment programme to support affordable homes for the middle classes as well as low earners.
In the case of Emanuel, who stepped down in 2010 as Barack Obama’s chief of staff to seek election in Chicago, Khan cited his “infrastructure bank”. It was an apparent reference to the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, a non-profit agency composed of private and public members that was set up by Emanuel to advise him on and help push through major public works projects.
Asked if he believed that London’s reputation had been damaged by the tactics of the mayoral campaign, Khan said the record turnout had shown “what a wonderful city” it was.
“We’re not simply tolerating each other – you tolerate a toothache, I don’t want to be tolerated. We respect, we embrace, and we celebrate, which is fantastic.”
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