Young Muslims are being put off a career in politics because of the dirty tricks and personal attacks in the London mayoral race, the Labour candidate Sadiq Khan has warned.
Mr Khan used an awards ceremony, attended by Greg Clark, the Communities Secretary and high-profile Muslims from sport, media, and business, to warn that the negative campaign that had focused on his links to alleged Islamic extremists was alienating the community.
“People have approached me here tonight and even in the last few days and weeks and have said, ‘Look, my son or daughter, my nephew or niece, my younger brother or sister, is thinking about a career in politics, is thinking about public service, is thinking about entering public life. But they are worried. They are worried because if this is what you suffer, we worry that they will suffer’,” he said.
“And all I say is this: you know our parents or grandparents who are first generation immigrants, they had it much tougher than we do. When they first came to this country there were signs saying: ‘No blacks, no Irish, no dogs.’ But they made sacrifices, they contributed towards mosques being built, they lobbied parliamentarians to allow halal food, for women to wear what they like, for there to be provision for worship and equal treatment.
“We owe it to them to carry on working hard and make sure we make history.”
Separately Mr Khan accused David Cameron’s election strategist Lynton Crosby of being responsible for the negative campaign being run by his Tory rival Zac Goldsmith.
He said Mr Goldsmith and the Prime Minister would come to regret the “divisive” election strategy - and accused election guru Sir Lynton of masterminding the “negative” campaign.
“The Zac Goldsmith that I knew, the Zac Goldsmith who has been locked away by Crosby, is charming, personable, wants to mix with people of different faiths, understands the importance of unity, celebrates the diversity of London,” he said.
Mr Khan’s comments came after David Cameron stepped up Tory accusations that Mr Khan had links to extremists, accusing him of having shared a platform nine times with a south London imam who Mr Cameron claimed supported Islamic State.
The Prime Minister was met with cries of “racist” from the chamber. Last week Theresa May, the Home Secretary, told the Tory spring conference that it was a “worry” Mr Khan had campaigned against the extradition of his Tooting constituent Babar Ahmad, who was detained in the UK without charge and later jailed in the US for helping to support terrorist groups.
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