Labour's Khan Urges U.K. Muslims to Integrate to Stop Extremism

  • London mayoral candidate says separation causes radicalization
  • After Paris attacks, Khan distances himself from leader Corbyn

Sadiq Khan, the Labour Party candidate for mayor of London, said Britain needs to work better to integrate Muslims into the rest of society if it wants to avoid creating the conditions in which Islamist extremism grows.

“Too many British people have never befriended a Muslim, never worked together, never eaten together, never played sports together,” Khan, himself a Muslim, told reporters at a lunch in Parliament on Thursday. “As a result, too many people have formed a single identity, too often based around their religion or ethnicity. This creates the conditions for extremism and radicalization to take hold.”

Responding to the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, Khan said he wants to see schools and charities ensuring that children of different faiths mix, and he called for tighter controls on extremist material on the Internet. He also took a starkly different line from his party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, supporting both the police’s right to shoot terrorists and the government’s right to kill extremists abroad using drone strikes.

Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants, said the fight against radicalization is personal for him. He said his family experienced a “campaign of hate” from fellow Muslims every time he’d run for Parliament and that he’d had to discuss police safety advice with his daughters.

Leadership Contest

Khan was one of the members of Parliament who nominated Corbyn for the Labour leadership earlier in the year to give the party’s radical socialist wing a voice in the contest, though he said at the time he didn’t intend to vote for him. Corbyn’s surprise win created a problem for Khan, who needs to reassure potential Tory voters in order to win the London mayoralty next year. Boris Johnson has held the post for the Conservatives since 2008.

Khan’s speech and then his answers to questions offered a series of sideswipes at his leader, including an attack on the idea “that western foreign policy is the cause of all the world’s problems.” After Corbyn said earlier in the week that he’s “not happy” with police operating a shoot-to-kill policy toward terrorists, Khan said politicians should back armed officers. “They help keep us safe,” he said.

Khan closed by saying that there was much to celebrate in the way London handles ethnic diversity. His Conservative Party opponent, Zac Goldsmith, is Jewish. “Only in London could we have a Muslim versus a Jew,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”

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