LONDON is a “beacon for the rest of the world” in its healthy relationships between faith communities, the Labour candidate for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said last week.
Mr Khan, the MP for Tooting, who became the first Muslim to attend the Cabinet on his appointment as Transport Minister in 2009, is currently leading in the polls against his Conservative rival, Zac Goldsmith.
On Friday, he visited Oasis Farm Waterloo, a community project run by Oasis, the Christian charity founded by Steve Chalke. He was, he said, “really impressed by the amount of social action that Christian communities in London do”, referring to foodbanks, mentoring, and youth work.
He also defended the involvement of Christians, and others of faith, in politics: “People who get involved in politics are often motivated by values, and, often, people get those values from their faith. . . We should never be embarrassed of that good work. I would not want to see them not doing it, so would be encouraging it . . .”
Mr Khan is one of eight children. His father, a bus driver, and his mother, a seamstress, emigrated to the UK from Pakistan. During his mayoral campaign, Mr Khan has stressed his roots in Tooting — in contrast to Mr Goldsmith, the Eton-educated son of a billionaire businessman, he was brought up in a council house and attended a comprehensive school.
He described himself on Friday as “a mayor who will be mayor for all Londoners . . . who understands why it is crucial to fix the housing crisis”. As a member of both an ethnic minority and a religious minority, he had “seen friendship from other faith communities — not just tolerating me, but respecting me, and celebrating me.
“What is wonderful about London is not that we just tolerate different faith communities, but celebrate them, and work with them. Some of the Christian-Muslim work taking place is a beacon for the rest of the world about how to put out the hand of friendship and do good together.”
He praised as “brave” the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comment that those who feared the migration influx were not racist (News, 18 March). The Archbishop, he said, was “absolutely right in the sense that what you can’t do is criticise people for a legitimate emotion. We should be addressing their concerns. If it’s the case that people are concerned about the allocation of finite resources, it’s important to recognise what the root cause is. The root cause of there not being an ability to afford to live in London is because we have not built enough genuinely affordable homes.”
The London mayoral election will be held on 5 May.