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London’s first Muslim Mayor needs 24/7 protection from Islamophobes and racists

29th Oct 2021
London’s first Muslim Mayor  needs 24/7 protection from Islamophobes and racists

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says police advised him to have 24/7 protection (Photo: Philip Rock/Anadolu Agency)

 

Elham Asaad Buaras

London’s first Muslim and minority ethnic Mayor admitted it is “tough” having round-the-clock protection, but that it is necessary because of the “colour of his skin and the god he worships”.

Speaking at a fringe event at Labour’s conference in Brighton on September 28, Sadiq Khan explained that when he came to office in 2016, he resisted the recommendation of using police protection, but that the risks to those around him had persuaded him.

The revelation of the police-led decision to beef up the Mayor’s security comes following the media’s criticism of Khan for travelling in a convoy of three vehicles to Battersea Park, which is 4.5 miles from his home, to walk his dog.

“That story leads to people then sending threatening emails. When I was first elected, shortly after, I was told that because of risk assessments I should have full-police protection, and I declined,” Khan told the event.

However, “The game-changer for me was when the police spoke to my Chief of Staff and my wife to persuade me to accept it, and the point they made was I may reject it, but do I realise that because of me, those who are with me may be at risk? Whether it’s my wife, kids or whether it’s my staff that I work with, and that was the reason I said yes in the end.”

Khan said he was protected “round-the-clock” by 15 police officers, and that his staff had received counselling to come to grips with the “vitriol” he had been subjected to.

He said he had not spoken up about his level of protection before because he did not want to discourage members of the BAME communities from going into politics.

Khan claimed he was encouraged to do so by England footballers who had resisted racist abuse. He said, “I’m not going to allow these racists and these Islamophobes to intimidate me, and I’ll never bow to them.

“The Mayor of the greatest city in the world needs protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week because of the colour of his skin and the god he worships. That can’t be right.”

The Muslim Council of Britain says it is “deeply concerned” about the revelation that the Mayor of London needs to be protected at all times.

A spokesman for the group told The Muslim News, “Hateful comments, threats and other abuse from Islamophobes is an all too common occurrence for British Muslims, particularly those in the public eye.”

He added that “During the recent Parliamentary debate on the definition of Islamophobia (September 9), several Muslim MPs’ provided heart-rending and impassioned personal testimony on the abuse they have faced. It is entirely unacceptable that British Muslims, who have dedicated themselves to public service, should have to live their lives under police protection.”

MCB also called on the Government to “take meaningful action; beginning with acknowledging the pervasiveness of Islamophobia, understanding what it is, and adopting the APPG on British Muslims definition of Islamophobia. Otherwise, British Muslims will continue to pay a dire price.”

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