At least one of the killers in the latest terror attack in London, in June, was a Pakistani, and the mayor of London is a Paki.
it was very easy for Donald Trump to take on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, because he is a British Muslim, a child of that old “empire where the sun never sets”. Trump somehow blames him for being soft on terrorists.
Sadiq Khan is one of the only three Muslim mayors in Western Europe. Another one is the mayor of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, the Moroccan Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Woody Allen of politics (cf. a portrait underneath, the man who tells Muslims to fuck off if they don’t like living there), and the Turkish Emir Kir, mayor of my neighbourhood of Saint-Josse in Brussels.
Sadiq Khan. In Muslim theology, a “sadiq” is a righteous man, a “just”, the exact etymological and historical equivalent of the Jewish “tzadik”.
Sadiq Khan, Labour’s surprise winner of London’s 2016 mayoral elections in May, is a human rights lawyer, son of a Pakistani bus driver and of a seamstress, who grew up in a tower block, on a council flat, in Tooting, south London. Tooting remained his constituency up to his being elected to the Commons in 2005.
His was a family that seemed to descend from Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie’s first successful novel. Eight siblings, seven of whom are boys. He was born right in the middle: three older brothers, three younger ones. All eight went to universities, all seven brothers are into boxing, as a pastime, or professionally, as trainers.
“Ahmed Sinai liked to be asked nicely for money, to have it wheedled out of him with caresses and sweet words until his table napkin began to rise in his lap as something moved in his pajamas; and she didn’t mind, with her assiduity she learned to love this also, and when she needed money there were strokes and ‘Janum, my life, please…’ and’.. .Just a little so that I can make nice food and pay the bills…’ and ‘Such a generous man, give me what you like, I know it will be enough’… the techniques of street beggars and she’d have to do it in front of that one with her saucer eyes and giggly voice.”
(Salman Rushdie “Midnight’s Children”)
De ce e familia română tradițională similară cu cea indiană sau pakistaneză (de unde succesul vechilor filme indiene):
“Lui Ahmed Sinai [tatãl naratorului] îi plăcea ca mama sã-i ceară frumos banii, prin milogeală, cu mângâieri și vorbe dulci până când șervetul din poală începea să se umfle de parcă-i mișca ceva în pijama; iar mamei nu-i păsa, prin practică învățase să-i placă și asta, când avea nevoie de bani veneau atingeri și “Dragoste, iubire, hai…” și “dă numai un pic, ca să fac păpică și să plătesc facturile” și “cât ești tu de darnic, dă cât vrei, c-o sã ajungă”… tehnici de cerșetori pe care trebuia să le aplice holbând ochii și miorlăindu-se.”
(Salman Rushdie “Midnight’s Children”)
Those were good times, in his youth: three bedrooms, subsidised rent. No-one was expecting the present crisis. The West, and especially London and the United Kingdom, were still deep in the utopia of infinite progress. In this, Sadiq Khan is more a character out of Hanif Kureishi’s Buddha of Suburbia. He was born in London, not in Pakistan, which is all to the credit of multicultural London, as opposed to, let’s say, Paris. One would hardly imagine in France a Muslim-born citizen a candidate for the town-hall of Paris.
Sadiq Khan was first the winner, in September 2015, of Labour’s inner election to select a candidate, simultaneously with the Tory election of the Jewish millionaire golden-boy Zac Goldsmith. One would hardly imagine two more different candidates to lead London. Sadiq Khan is the total opposite of Zac Goldsmith. Running initially neck and neck, with 29% of voting intentions each, they had surprisingly similar programs. Housing was a main priority for both, although the discourse behind the promises is quite different. Both also opposed the extension of Heathrow airport.
Sadiq Khan’s personality is puzzling at times even for his own followers. In 2006, he was one of the MEPs who wrote an open letter to Labour prime minister Tony Blair criticising the UK foreign policy. At the latest Labour internal election, he put Jeremy Corbyn on the leadership ballot, but he ostensibly didn’t vote for him. He said he wanted to encourage debate inside the party.
His dry, no-nonsense humour is also not to everybody’s taste. How shrewd he is could be seen from the simple fact that he managed to run Ed Miliband’s winning campaign as Labour leader against his own brother, David, when David was the main favourite.
Sadiq Khan was also the first ethnic, non-British figure, in a shadow cabinet (shadow lord chancellor and justice secretary). In 2009 already, as minister of state for transport, he became both the first Asian and the first Muslim to attend cabinet.
In April 2010 it was revealed that the “just” Sadiq Khan had repaid wrongly-claimed expenses on two occasions, when Christmas, Eid, and birthday cards worth thousands of pounds were sent to his constituents. Under House of Commons rules, pre-paid envelopes and official stationery can only be used for parliamentary business. Khan’s claim for the greetings cards was initially rejected, but he presented a new invoice no longer identifying the nature of the claim, and this was accepted. He attributed the improper claim for the cards to “inexperience” and error and apologised for breaking the expenses rules.
Although Islam is practically never present in his official discourse, he has been accused of being soft on Islamic terror, a hot topic nowadays. During his legal career he specialised in actions against the police, employment and discrimination law, judicial reviews and crime, and was involved in a number of important cases. As a lawyer, he represented people indicted for terror offences. In 2008, he was even bugged by the anti-terror police when he visited in jail a constituent, Babar Ahmad, accused of raising funds for the Taliban.
Also, as the weekly The Observer once wrote about him in the introduction to an interview: — He can sometimes talk in such a way that he could be “boring you into submission”.
From Davos this year, he confronted Theresa May’s ‘hard Brexit’ decision, after she said that not reaching a deal with the European Union would be better than concluding a bad exit deal for Britain.
In December, Sadiq Khan appointed former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson to a panel of business and financial leaders advising on Brexit which also includes the City of London’s policy chief and the head of the London Stock Exchange.
Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Woody Allen of politics
Woody Allen can make politically incorrect jokes about Jews, or so it is accepted. He is Jewish and a permanent object of study for psychoanalysis (he makes politically incorrect jokes about women as well, as a matter of fact). Well, it seems then that Ahmed Aboutaleb can make jokes about Muslims.
Last year, the re-elected mayor of Rotterdam, who is Moroccan-born, told Muslim immigrants who do not adapt that they can ‘fuck off’. Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, who arrived in the Netherlands when he was 15, said thus that Muslims who ‘do not like it here can pack their bags and leave’.
Netherlands is changing its policy on migrants, and in July last year the European Court of Justice decided the country has the right to impose on nationals from non-EU countries immigrating to join their spouses to pass cultural and language tests, in order to help them assimilate into society.
The Dutch tests are hard to pass, sometimes even for nationals, but Ahmed Aboutaleb would pass them all.
He has been the Mayor of Rotterdam since January 5, 2009. He is the first mayor of a large city in the Netherlands who is of both immigrant descent and of the Muslim faith; Aboutaleb is of Riffian Berber ancestry and a dual citizen of both the Netherlands and Morocco.
He grew up as a son of a Berber peasant who, in spite of being almost illiterate was imam of a small village in the Nador Province, Rif region. Together with his mother and brothers he moved to the Netherlands in 1976, when he was 15 years old. Aboutaleb had already noticed how he differed from other kids. As he said in an interview: ‘I was so different, such a school dork. I wanted to learn, I wanted to know everything.’
When he arrived, as a teenager, he couldn’t speak one single word of Dutch. He learned not only Dutch, but also English, practically the second language in the Netherlands.
His position inside the Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid; PvdA) helped him become mayor of Rotterdam, the second city in the Netherlands and Europe’s biggest port. For an immigrant (and a Muslim to boot) to be at the head of such a metropolis was something unseen yet in the Netherlands, and indeed in Europe. His election was a clear proof of Dutch openness, even if the national model of integration is being more and more criticized. It was also a logical process, given that in Rotterdam immigrants and Dutch citizens stemming from the immigration represent more than half of the population.
Rotterdam was the city of Pym Fortuyn, the assassinated nationalist politician, who was succeeded by the far-right Freedom Party of Geert Wilders. Wilders even shouted in public, in 2009, that “To name a Moroccan mayor of the second city in the country is as crazy as to name a Dutchman mayor of Mecca.”
Aboutaleb is also a great fan of poetry, especially Arabic poetry. He translated into Dutch the poetry of Adonis, the most famous living poet of the Arabic language, and an atheist. He praises the project of a European brand of Islam, open, liberal and tolerant.
He is not afraid of controversy, on the contrary he thrives on it. “I am the first jihadist in Rotterdam”, he likes to joke, reminding that the main definition of “jihad” is to combat one’s self in order to become better.
He remains a major target of Al-Qaeda in the Netherlands and he dreams of becoming prime minister. He meets young radicalized Muslims and keeps telling them to make a choice, not to stay at home watching radical preaches on YouTube. “If my example incites other immigrants to become active citizens, I would be very happy”, he says.
So: ‘You don’t like it here – then you go fuck off’ told Aboutaleb other Muslim immigrants. “Rot toch op” is the expression in Dutch, and it was put on music in a rap hit. Nice example of real integration.