London’s Muslim mayor calls for rooting out anti-Semitism

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, with wife Saadiya, on Election Day, May 5, 2016. (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, with wife Saadiya, on Election Day, May 5, 2016. (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

(JTA) – Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, called for the rooting out of anti-Semitism in his city and in his Labour Party.

In an op-ed Monday in The Jerusalem Post, Khan said he wants “to send a message around the world by being the London mayor of Islamic faith who does more to protect Jewish Londoners from anti-Semitism than any mayor in this city’s history.”

Khan, who was elected May 5, also is the first Muslim to lead a European capital city.

Noting that he has signed the American Jewish Committee’s Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism pledge, Khan called the recent rise in anti-Semitism “alarming” and said, “We need to send the message far and wide that anti-Semitism is totally unacceptable and can never be justified.”

“We must work together to root out anti-Semitism wherever we find it – and, yes – that includes within the Labour Party,” he added.

In explaining his commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, Khan said: “As a British Muslim, I am no stranger to prejudice. I know what it’s like to be discriminated against just because of your background or religion.”

Khan spoke out against anti-Semitism throughout his mayoral campaign and has attended numerous Jewish communal events since becoming mayor. His first public act as mayor was to attend a Yom HaShoah Holocaust commemoration ceremony on May 8. He has also said he plans to visit Israel as mayor.

Accusations of anti-Semitism have roiled the Labour Party in recent months, with dozens of members suspended in the past few weeks allegedly for making anti-Semitic remarks. London’s former Labour mayor, Ken Livingstone, was suspended for anti-Semitic remarks in late April following a series of interviews in which he claimed that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism.

Developed by the American Jewish Committee last July and launched in Europe later in 2015, the mayors’ pledge received its first European cosignatory in Anne Hidalgo of Paris, followed by her counterparts in Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan and Copenhagen. In all, 150 mayors from 30 European countries have signed, along with more than 300 mayors from 50 American states.

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