As Donald Trump looks set to become the Republican presidential nominee, promising an immigration ban on Muslims as his first order of business, something quite different is happening on the other side of the pond.
If the British pollsters and bookies have it right, London is about to have its first Muslim mayor, the Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan, who is the favorite to beat Conservative Zac Goldsmith.
Goldsmith tapped into fears over recent terrorist attacks in European capitals by casting Khan as a politician who had “given platforms, oxygen and even cover” to Islamic extremists.
On the eve of the election, Khan, a former human rights lawyer and the son of a bus driver from Pakistan, urged Londoners “to choose hope over fear.” Khan describes himself as “the British Muslim who takes the fight to the extremists,” and who also promises to fight hate crimes and Islamophobia.
He’s also no fan of Trump, who became the presumptive GOP nominee after winning Indiana on Tuesday night. Trump told The New York Times, “I’m not running for president to make things unstable for the country.”
For his first 100 days in office, however, Trump is planning measures that could certainly destabilize some of the nation’s relationships with allies: He’s promising that his much-touted wall between the US and Mexico will be designed, and the immigration ban on Muslims will be in place.
Trump a “Very Serious Threat”
In a recent op-ed for The Guardian, Khan described Trump as a “very serious threat.”
Trump is just the latest public figure to articulate a growing wave of Islamophobia across the western world. His shocking views justify the actions of those who commit hate crimes and worse, play into the hands of terrorists such as Daesh (Islamic State) – making Britain less safe.
As Khan pointed out, the number of Islamophobic incidents recorded by the police in London increased by 70 percent from 2014 to 2015. He writes that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric not only serves to to “encourage and legitimise” those who commit hate crimes but worse, they “play straight into the hands of terrorists.”
Young British Muslims become more susceptible to radicalisation and extremism when we don’t give mainstream Muslims the confidence to challenge the extremists, and because British society is too segregated.
The growing wave of Islamophobia that will be fuelled by Trump’s comments makes these problems worse. Being subjected to Islamophobic abuse makes integration less likely, and amplifies the views of the extremists rather than the mainstream. It’s divisive and dangerous and puts British lives at risk.
Even though President Obama and the outgoing mayor of London Boris Johnson have had a bit of back-and-forth recently — kicked off by the location of the bust of Winston Churchill in the White House — one is left to wonder what the historic “special relationship” between Washington and London would be like should Trump become the 45th president.