London's new Muslim mayor attends Holocaust memorial

London's new Muslim mayor, Labour politician Sadiq Khan, attended his first public event as mayor on Sunday at a memorial for the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Khan attended Sunday's Annual Jewish Remembrance Day for Victims of the Holocaust, the National Yom HaShoah Commemoration, joining thousands of people at a sports stadium in north London.

The memorial took place amid a simmering row in Khan's Labour Party following the suspension of two prominent members last month for anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian remarks that were widely criticized as anti-Semitic.

Writing in Sunday's Observer newspaper, Khan said concerns about anti-Semitism had been "so damaging" for Labour.

"By not acting quickly enough, the party gave the impression that we didn't care about the concerns of the Jewish community and that we were not taking accusations of racism seriously," Khan said.

"It's also why the Conservative mayoral campaign was so disappointing," he said.

Khan said Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith "used fear and innuendo to try to turn different ethnic and religious groups [in London] against each other – something straight out of the Donald Trump playbook." 

Khan was among many Labour politicians who condemned remarks by Ken Livingstone, a former Labour mayor of London, as "appalling and inexcusable."

In a BBC interview, Livingstone had defended Labour member of parliament Naz Shah, who was suspended from the party for hercontroversial comments about Israel, and made an obscure reference to Adolf Hitler "supporting Zionism before he went mad."

Khan's mayoral campaign, which saw him win Thursday's election, survived a British media focus on the Labour infighting over the alleged anti-Semitism.

Divisions in the rival Conservative Party have also sharpened following its unsuccessful campaign for Goldsmith, which was criticized by politicians on all sides for its focus on Khan's religion and the former human rights lawyer's alleged association with extremists.

During the campaigning, Cameron said in parliament that Khan had "appeared on a platform" with a Muslim cleric who, he claimed, supported Islamic State - a claim denied by the cleric.

Last update: Sun, 08/05/2016 - 20:20
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