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Muslim mayor of London sets out to build bridges

Sadiq Khan and his wife Saadiya after voting on May 5, 2016. (Bloomberg)LONDON — The newly elected mayor of London, the first Muslim to hold the position, attended a community program commemorating the Holocaust as his first official public engagement.

Sadiq Khan also reiterated plans to lead a trade delegration to Israel and said it is important to improve Jewish-Muslim relaions in the UK capital.

Khan of the Labour Party joined thousands of members of the Jewish community and its supporters for the Yom Hashoah program on Sunday, May 8, in a local stadium three days after his election.

The Yom HaShoah UK event included 120 sponsoring religious and political organizations under a banner of “Remember Together: We are one.”

Some 5,000 people reportedly attended the community event, the Jewish News website reported.

Speakers included Britain’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, and Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Mark Regev.

Khan said he was “honored that my first public engagement will be such a poignant one, where I will meet and hear from Jewish survivors and refugees who went through unimaginable horrors in the Holocaust,” the Guardian reported.

Khan defeated the Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, winning 44% of the vote to 35% for his opponent, according to the Guardian.

A self-described moderate Muslim, Khan — the son of a Pakistan-born bus driver — is the city’s first Labour mayor in eight years.

Khan, who campaigned hard in the Jewish community and has said he will be the “Muslim mayor who will be tough on extremism,” according to the Standard, has criticized his party for not doing enough to fight anti-Semitism.

Accusations of anti-Semitism have roiled his 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.

“We live in the greatest city in the world and have to go get along,” said Khan.

“I’m the mayor of London, the most diverse city in the world, and I’ll be everyone’s mayor.

“No preferential treatment, but I have a role to build bridges. My signing-in ceremony was deliberately designed to show the sort of a mayor I’ll be and I started as I mean to go on.”

Asked when he will fulfill a campaign promise to visit Israel, Khan said: “I’ve not even had my first Monday at work to be fair, I’ve had six hours sleep since Wednesday. But I’m keen to make sure I’m the most pro-business mayor we’ve ever had and that means going on trade missions, including to Tel Aviv.”


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