TEL AVIV – The Arab and Muslim world’s exuberance at Sadiq Khan’s mayoral victory is hypocritical and racist since his election would never have happened in Arab and Muslim countries, an editorial in the London-based daily Rai Al-Youm claimed.
The election of the Labour Party candidate on May 5 sparked celebrations across the Arab world, marking the first time a Muslim has been elected mayor of London. However, online newspaper Rai Al-Youm was quick to point out that his election had nothing to do with the fact that Khan is a Muslim. Instead, it was the result of his achievements and the fact that Khan lives in a democratic country that practices the rule of law and provides equal rights to all its citizens.
Such rights, argues the editorial, are never afforded to immigrants in Arab states. Those countries continue to persecute their minorities and commit gross violations of human rights.
The editorial begins by outlining Khan’s background as the son of a Pakistani bus driver who immigrated to Britain. Emphasizing Khan’s rags-to-riches story, the article points out that the mayor-elect was raised in public housing provided by the British government.
“Many have not grasped the significance of the win of this young man, who climbed from the bottom to the very top, in a journey rife with suffering and with diligent efforts in a capitalist society and a non-Islamic multicultural environment,” the article reads.
The secret to Khan’s success, the editorial contends, lies in equality, the rule of law, the absence of racism, and Britain’s respect for human rights and freedom of expression.
All of these values and fundamental principles are nonexistent in the vast majority of our Arab and Islamic countries. That is why their sons await the first opportunity to emigrate, searching for a good life far from persecution, oppression, and racism, where they can find a welcoming environment that offers them opportunities for success and creativity.
The article then paints a picture of what Khan’s life might have looked like had his father chosen to immigrate to an Arab country, especially a Gulf state to which Pakistani immigrants often flock.
The very first thing that would have happened, argues the piece, is that his passport would have been confiscated. He would have been denied the right to send his children to state schools on the basis of being a foreigner. Similarly, he would not be able to send his children to government hospitals should they fall ill.
“Mr. Khan’s [fate] would have been like that of millions of other Arabs, Muslim or Christian, Shi’ite or Sunni, as well as of millions of other immigrants from around the world,” the article states.
Western societies, however, afford all their citizens equal opportunities regardless of religion, origin, or color.
By reveling in the fact that he is a Muslim – and not in the fact that he came from a poor and humble family, and that he was given this opportunity by equality and by [genuine] communal life – [Muslims] are expressing racism.
Sadiq Khan will enter history through the same door as U.S. President Barack Obama … and we must always remember that this is all thanks to equality and the rule of law. We, as Arabs currently undergoing the worst forms of racial and ethnic incitement among members of our same Islamic faith, have a long way to go before we attain the values and fundamental principles that are specifically demanded by our religion.