LONDON — London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan would welcome presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to London to “educate” him about Islam and its compatibility with Western values.
In an interview with NBC News on Friday, the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver said Trump’s “ignorant” views on Islam were “inadvertently playing into the hands of extremists” who prey on young Muslims.
“To suggest that it’s incompatible to be Western and to be Muslim is, I think, really, really risky,” Khan said during a visit to a London elementary school.
Trump’s proposal triggered widespread criticism and condemnation from global political and religious leaders.
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“I want Donald Trump to come to London so I can introduce myself to him as a mainstream Muslim, very, very comfortable with Western liberal values, but also introduce him to hundreds of thousands, dare I say millions of Muslims in this country, who love being British, love being Western.”
“I want to educate Donald Trump. I want to show him that you can be Muslim and be Western,” said Khan, who was sworn-in on May 7.
Trump this week said his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. was “only a suggestion” and told the New York Times that he was “happy” about Khan’s election.
He also told the Times that the Khan could be an exception to the ban.
Khan has rejected Trump’s exemption, and said he will try to visit the U.S. before the November presidential election.
A member of Britain’s opposition center-left Labour party, Khan is now Europe’s highest-profile Muslim politician after winning last week’s London mayoral election, trouncing his Conservative opponent Zac Goldsmith by a hefty margin after a ferocious contest.
Goldsmith, a member of Britain’s ruling Conservative party, has been accused of running a divisive campaign that aimed to link Khan to religious extremists.
Khan has condemned Goldsmith’s campaign as coming “straight out of the Donald Trump playbook” and said his election could provide lessons for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
He thanked Americans for their messages of support, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who were quick to congratulate Khan on his election win.
Son of a Pakistani bus driver, champion of workers' rights and human rights, and now Mayor of London. Congrats, @SadiqKhan. -H
Khan also made clear his preference for the next president.
“As a proud feminist at City Hall, as someone who’s a father of two daughters, I think Hillary Clinton being the president of the USA would send a loud and clear message, but also she’s competent, she’s got gravitas, she’s got huge experience,” he said. “So you won’t be surprised to know I want Hillary to be president.”
Mo Abbas is a London-based multimedia producer for NBC News.
Kelly Cobiella is a correspondent based in London. She previously worked at CBS News and ABC News in London, following several years with CBS in New York, Dallas and Miami.