NEW YORK -- London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been outspoken about the American presidential race since he took office this summer.
Kahn is one of eight children born to Pakistani immigrants. The former human rights lawyer was elected in May as the first Muslim to lead a major western capital, and he has spoken extensively on his belief that the rhetoric espoused by Donald Trump and far-right European politicians serves only to bolster Islamic extremist groups like ISIS.
“We play straight into the hand of those who seek to divide us, of extremists and terrorists around the world, when we imply that it is not possible to hold Western values dear and to be a Muslim,” Khan said recently in Chicago.
Khan was asked Monday about his decision to offer his opinion publically on U.S. politics -- particularly his pointed critique of Trump after the Republican nominee vowed to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States if he’s elected.
“When I was elected, he said he would make an exception for me. Now, according to my mum, I’m exceptional -- but I’m not exceptional. There are literally tens of thousands of Americans -- proud Americans – who are proud Muslims. There are literally millions of Brits -- proud Brits -- who are proud Muslims,” said Khan, who rejected Trump’s offer to become an “exception” to the ban if Trump does become president of the U.S.
On Monday, following the explosions in New York and New Jersey that remain under investigation, Khan said “London stands shoulder-to-shoulder with New York,” and added that the residents of his city and the Big Apple “have a lot in common.”
Asked what authorities can do to try and mitigate the threat, which Khan acknowledged was coming not just from abroad, but from European- and American-born, radicalized extremists, he noted the deemed success of the London Metropolitan Police’s “police by consent” policy, which puts significant emphasis on community outreach.
But Khan spent much of his interview on the “CBS This Morning” set making his case for another, loftier counterterrorism strategy he hopes to implement in London; getting the young Muslims and converts of the Western world to resist extremism on their own by teaching them “resilience.”
“If you’re a young Brit or a young American, and somebody comes along to try and groom you, or brainwash you or indoctrinate you -- a charismatic preacher of hate -- and he says, ‘look, the West hates you, there’s a Jewish conspiracy,’ you can say, ‘what are you talking about? My best friend’s a Jew. What are you talking about? I’m proud to be an American. What are you talking about? This country’s a country where you can fulfil your potential if you work hard. There’s a helping hand.’ I want to give our youngsters that resilience so they can counter this extremist narrative.”
Khan did not go into further detail about how he hoped to teach young Londoners “resilience.”
And as for his somewhat unusual willingness to take sides in a U.S. election battle, if anyone thought the Mayor of London might tone-down his anti-Trump stance after a few months in office, they were wrong.
“I hope the best candidate wins, and I’m sure she will,” Khan said with a smile.