London's mayoral election made international headlines on Saturday when Sadiq Khan, a Muslim politician, was declared the winner. In an election campaign fraught with tensions over religion and ethnicity, Khan's victory was held as a triumph over fear and division.
"I'm a Londoner, I'm European, I'm British, I'm English, I'm of Islamic faith, of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, a dad, a husband," he said in an interview with The New York Times before his win.
Across the pond, there is Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee who has been roundly criticized for calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. On Monday, Trump struck a conciliatory tone when asked how this ban would affect Khan, saying that "there will always be exceptions."
"I was happy to see that," Trump told The New York Times of Khan's win. "I think it's a very good thing, and I hope he does a very good job because frankly that would be very, very good... Because I think if he does a great job, it will really — you lead by example, always lead by example. If he does a good job and frankly if he does a great job, that would be a terrific thing."
But Khan was having none of it. His only needed a single sentence to completely dismiss Trump's offer to make him an "exception" to the Muslim ban: "This isn't just about me."
"It's about my friends, my family, and everyone who comes from a background similar to mine, anywhere in the world," he continued.
Khan, who has called himself an "antidote" to extremism, accused his opponents of using a "Donald Trump playbook" during the election campaign. He was openly critical of Trump's approach to Muslims, adding that he would visit the U.S. to meet with American mayors before January "in case Donald Trump wins."
In December, after the San Bernadino shooting and the Paris bombings, Trump called for a "complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S." His remarks sparked a national backlash, with many, including Khan, saying that such comments only serve to push away the local Muslim population and America's Muslim allies abroad.
"Donald Trump's ignorant view of Islam could make both of our countries less safe — it risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of extremists," Khan said. "Donald Trump and those around him think that Western liberal values are incompatible with mainstream Islam — London has proved him wrong."
Cover image via a katz / Shutterstock.com.