History is made and celebrated accordingly as the citizens of London, the capital of the British Empire, elected a Pakistani Muslim as Mayor. It was a triumph over the forces of Islamophobia and, for many, another step towards ultimate Islamic rule over the world. However, for others the blatant hypocrisy of such celebrations were too obvious to ignore. We celebrate the acceptance of a religious minority in England while hatred against religious minorities reaches a fever pitch here. The truth is that election of Sadiq Khan raises questions that deserve to be given due reflection and not just emotional reactions.
First let use clear up some important points.
Number one: Sadiq Khan is not Pakistani. His parents immigrated to Pakistan during partition, but left before he was born in 1970. He was born in London. He is an Englishman of Pakistani heritage, but let’s be honest please…he is an Englishman.
Number two: Sadiq Khan is secular. Much of the celebration of his election in Pakistan centres on his religion as he is personally a Muslim, but he just like he is not a Pakistani, also he is not a Muslim politician. He is a secular politician who just happens to be Muslim. As a politician, Sadiq Khan has supported gay rights and Jews. In 2013, he was declared wajib-ul-qatal and faced threats from jihadi extremists. He will be a Muslim Mayor of London, but he will not be Mayor of Muslim London.
Number three: Sadiq Khan showed what the son of a bus driver can achieve…if he is not in Pakistan. The third thing we are told after we hear about this “Pakistani” “Muslim” is that he is the son of a bus driver. This is supposed to be the lesson that all of us can achieve greatness, but it is missing a key component. Does anyone honestly believe that the son of a bus driver will be CM Punjab? Son of a sabji wala will be PM? No. What we quietly ignore is that Sadiq Khan has achieved greatness because he lives in a secular democracy.
This is the lesson of Sadiq Khan. You can be from humble beginnings, and you can be a devout Muslim, and you can achieve greatness under a secular democracy that rewards people for their hard work and tolerance of those who are different. If we want this for our children, we have the choice: Leave Pakistan…or change it.
What do you choose?