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Tory London Mayor candidate slammed for ‘dog-whistle Islamophobia’ against Sadiq Khan

27th Oct 2023
Tory London Mayor candidate slammed for ‘dog-whistle Islamophobia’ against Sadiq Khan

Elham Asaad Buaras

The Conservative Party candidate for London mayor is accused of “dog-whistle” Islamophobia after she alleged that the incumbent mayor, who is Muslim, “frightened” some of Britain’s Jewish community before calling for help in defeating him.

“I will ask for as much help as I can get in London because we need to defeat him,” Susan Hall, a member of the London Assembly, said on October 2 at a Conservative Friends of Israel event in Manchester that was part of the Tory party’s annual conference. “Particularly for our Jewish community,” she added.

British Jewish and Muslim organisations swiftly issued comments condemning the 68-year-old and backing Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor of Pakistani descent.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that Sadiq Khan has always treated the Jewish community “with friendship and respect.”

Longtime Jewish Labour parliament member Margaret Hodge called Hall’s comments “dog-whistle politics” and said, “Khan has always called out antisemitism, wherever it has reared.”

Reacting to his rival’s remarks, Khan referred to the Conservative Party’s record in Islamophobic London mayoral campaigning, citing Zac Goldsmith’s now infamously Islamophobic mayoral campaign in 2016, which sought to paint Khan as closely linked to extremists. In 2021, Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey shared a tweet that referred to Khan as the “mad mullah Khan of Londonistan.”

Khan told LBC Radio he is concerned “that we’re seeing a repeat of the 2016 election in relation to the tactic used by the Conservatives, who are the only party, by the way, who can win the mayoralty, except for me.”

Khan said his message to Hall and the Conservatives is, “For goodness’ sake, don’t weaponize the Jewish community to win votes. Stop it.”

He continued, “We saw last week not just the prime minister, but the home secretary proudly supporting the Conservative candidate as they did in 2016. If it’s going to be a repeat of that campaign, I’m hoping it’s a repeat of the ending of that campaign. which is voters in London showing that hope overcomes fear and unity overcomes division.”

Since being elected mayor in 2016, Khan has prioritised ties with British Jewry, repeatedly calling out his own Labour Party over its handling of the antisemitism controversy that plagued its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Khan attended a community programme commemorating the Holocaust as his first official public engagement, joined the Jewish Labour Movement, and has made several pro-Israel pronouncements.

Hall has refused to apologise for the remark. “I will never apologise for standing up for our Jewish community,” she told Sky News.

Hall also said that she has Jewish friends who have considered immigrating to Israel because they feel unsafe in the city.

“Since Sadiq Khan has taken over, these sorts of attacks have doubled—literally doubled, over 1,000 or around about 1,000 this year,” she told Sky News, without specifying if she meant antisemitic attacks.

This is not the first time Hall, who received the support of Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, in her bid to become mayor of the capital, has been accused of voicing anti-Muslim rhetoric. She has previously been found to have liked a tweet in praise of Enoch Powell, infamous for his 1960s speech linking immigration to “rivers of blood.”.

In February 2020, she retweeted a post by far-right pundit Katie Hopkins that described Khan as the mayor of ‘Londonistan’ in exceedingly pejorative terms and thanked Hopkins in reply.

The Shadow Health Secretary, Labour MP Wes Streeting, described Hall’s comments as both ‘divisive and disgusting’, and he added in a Twitter comment that ‘Sadiq Khan has repeatedly stood by London’s Jewish communities in the fight against anti-Semitism.

In a statement to The Muslim News Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Zara Mohammed, said, “It is unacceptable that someone with views as divisive as Susan Hall and an affinity for Enoch Powell no less be selected as the Conservative London Mayoral candidate.

“Her selection highlights the systemic and persistent nature of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party and that the Singh Review has done little to address it. As such, we once again call on the EHRC to open an investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

“The Conservative Party leadership must now hold Susan Hall to account; reject Islamophobia and divisive campaigning that serve only to pit communities against one another. We need a politics of unity, not division.”
A poll commissioned by anti-hate crime advocacy group Hope Not Hate found that six in 10 of its questioned Londoners believe Hall should be suspended from the Conservative Party and investigated.

Georgie Laming, Director of campaigns at Hope Not Hate, said, “It’s clear that Londoners think that Hall is not fit to represent London.

“The Conservative Party must suspend Susan Hall immediately, and she must be removed as a candidate.”

The Muslim News reached out to the Conservative Party for comment.

Susan Hall, Conservative candidate for the Mayor of London (Credit: Creative Commons)

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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