Sadiq Khan arrives with his wife Saadiya, family and aides arrive at City Hall on May 6, 2016 in London, England.
Photo by Mary Turner/Getty

London poised to elect Sadiq Khan as city’s first Muslim mayor

Labour lawmaker Sadiq Khan is poised to become the next mayor of London, which would mark the first time a Muslim candidate was elected to lead a major Western city.

The official announcement has not been made, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his congratulations, adding the hashtag “YesWeKhan” in a play off U.S. President Barack Obama’s campaign slogan.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also sent his congratulations, calling Khan “London’s new mayor and a fellow affordable housing advocate.”

Khan, 45, was a favorite to replace flamboyant Conservative Boris Johnson as mayor, after a race marred by allegations of extremism and fear-mongering.

Opinion polls had put him far in the lead, with a 20-point advantage over main rival Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative and the son of a billionaire.

Khan, a former human rights lawyer, has promised to be “the British Muslim who takes the fight to the extremists.” In an election-eve message, Khan promised to be “a mayor for all Londoners.”

“I urge Londoners to choose hope over fear,” he said.

Khan is the son of a bus driver from Pakistan and grew up with seven siblings in a three-bedroom government-subsidized apartment. He resonated in an expensive city where rocketing rents and property values are squeezing out even middle-class workers.

The bruising election drew comparisons to the contentious U.S. presidential campaign.

Goldsmith has for weeks focused on Khan’s past career as a human-rights lawyer that included public appearances alongside radical Muslim speakers, accusing Khan of giving “platform, oxygen and cover” to extremists

Khan accused Goldsmith of running a “nasty, dog-whistling campaign.”

Khan is among the majority of London’s 8.2 million inhabitants not classified as “white British.” According to the 2011 census, one in eight Londoners is a Muslim and 35 percent of the British capital’s residents were born overseas. 

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