Muslims are taking over the U.K. this year—in a good way.
It started with the Muslim athlete Riyad Mahrez, who was named the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year. Then Nadiya Hussain was asked to bake the Queen's birthday cake after she won Great British Bake Off last year. Following them, Malia Bouattia became the first Muslim black woman elected president of the National Union of Students. And Sadiq Khan topped it off yesterday as he was sworn in as London's first Muslim mayor.
Khan was worn in at Southwark Cathedral in London and vowed to be mayor “to all Londoners.”
Khan, 45, was not shy to speak publicly about his humble upbringing by Pakistani immigrant parents. As a son of a bus driver and a seamstress, he started from the bottom up. Khan and his family lived in three-bedroom apartment in a public housing project in London. He had to share the bedroom with seven siblings. Khan fell in love with politics at a young age, joining the Labour Party at age 15. He graduated from The University of North London as a human rights lawyer, where he met his wife and the mother of his two girls. Three years after he started working at a firm, he became a partner. Khan then took multiple positions in government. In 2015 he began his journey for the mayoral position.
People on social media have mixed emotions and reactions about Khan’s victory. Naturally, as the first Muslim in office, Khan faced harsh criticism and accusations. Angry conservatives found a cheap way to accuse Khan to be linked to “Islamic extremism.” Conservatives attacked Khan because he is publicly proud of his faith.
Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that the Labour Party is “putting extremists before working people.” Cameron also accused Khan of “sharing a platform nine times” with extremists.
Katie Hopkins, a controversial columnist in London, vowed to protest Khan’s victory by running down the streets of London with sausage up her behind. Don’t believe it? Take a look at her tweet:
Her deleted tweet even explained the type of sausage she would use. “Halal” is the Islamic way of preparing meat—basically like kosher.
Why Halal? She explained in another deleted tweet:
Right wing conservatives started #LondonHasFallen, a hashtag to impose fear in the public because their son-of-a-billionaire nominee lost the election. Other Londoners instantly took over the hashtag and posted positive and funny tweets to counter the hateful messages.
Others throughout London started a hashtag on social media in support of Khan. They tweeted and posted #YesWeKhan. People worldwide joined.
Some had to rub Khan’s victory in Trump’s face.
Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt tweeted a valid concern.
Khan’s rival Zac Goldsmith's sister Jemima was among the first to send her congrats.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was one of the many international congratulators to Khan’s victory:
Muslim Londoners make up 40% of England’s population.
Alaa Basatneh is a human-rights activist and a writer at Fusion focusing on the Arab world. She is the protagonist of the 2013 documentary "#ChicagoGirl."