New London mayor to attend Shoah memorial as first act in office
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New London mayor to attend Shoah memorial as first act in office

Amid anti-Semitism scandal embroiling Labour Party, Sadiq Khan to attend remembrance ceremony in Barnet day after vowing to be leader for all at swearing in

Britain's incoming London Mayor Sadiq Khan, center, attends his signing-in ceremony at Southwark Cathedral, cental London, May 7, 2016. (AFP/Yui Mok)
Britain's incoming London Mayor Sadiq Khan, center, attends his signing-in ceremony at Southwark Cathedral, cental London, May 7, 2016. (AFP/Yui Mok)

Sadiq Khan, the newly installed Muslim mayor of London, will attend the UK’s main Holocaust memorial ceremony Sunday as his first act in office, days after winning a heated election as his Labour Party came under fire for members making anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments.

On Saturday, the scandal roiling the party in recent weeks appeared to widen, as it emerged a Labour MP had suggested a future Labour government should apologize for the creation of the State of Israel.

Khan was sworn in on Saturday as the city’s first ever Muslim mayor, vowing to be a leader for everyone.

He will attend the Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony on Sunday afternoon, according to the UK’s Jewish News, alongside UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev as well as other prominent members of the Jewish community.

The event, organized by Yom HaShoah UK, is to be held at the Barnet Copthall Stadium the same location as the year before when it hosted the UK’s largest Holocaust remembrance event attended by some 5,000 people.

As part of the ceremony, the main UK commemoration of the Shoah, 150 Holocaust survivors will join a choir assembled from pupils attending five elementary schools.

Khan won with 44 percent of the vote to Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith’s 35% in the first round of counting, pulling further ahead when second choice votes were counted, according to The Guardian. The remaining votes went to candidates from smaller parties, such as the Green Party.

A self-described moderate Muslim, Khan — the son of a Pakistani-born bus driver — will be the city’s first Labour mayor in eight years, taking over for Tory Boris Johnson.

Khan, who campaigned hard in the Jewish community and has said he will be the “Muslim mayor who will be tough on extremism,” according to the Standard, has criticized his party for not doing enough to fight anti-Semitism.

On Friday, just hours before final votes had been tallied, another Labour Party member, David Watson, was suspended for anti-Semitic remarks — joining dozens of party members reported to have been so punished.

On Sunday, the Daily Mail reported that Labour MP for Ealing Rupa Huq said that a future Labour government should apologize for the creation of the State of Israel.

Labour MP for Ealing, Rupa Huq, in 2015. (CC-BY-SA 4.0 - Wikimedai/Rathfelder)
Labour MP for Ealing, Rupa Huq, in 2015. (CC-BY-SA 4.0 – Wikimedai/Rathfelder)

Speaking to a gathering of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign last year, Huq was asked if an apology should be made.

“1948, that happened under a British government,” she responded. “To my mind, an apology – yes. You could do one. A Labour government could probably get that through.”

Huq later backpedaled on the remarks, telling the Mail on Sunday that she doesn’t really support the idea.

“I don’t think that, those aren’t my views,” she said. “I was answering a question. I went on later to say that there shouldn’t be an apology.”

“I am a member of Labour Friends of Israel,’ she added.

The report came over a week after Ken Livingston, the last Labour mayor of the city, was suspended for anti-Semitic remarks in late April, following a series of interviews in which he claimed that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism, breaking the party’s anti-Semitism row wide open. Refusing to apologize, Livingstone later described the creation of Israel as a catastrophe.

Khan, in contrast, has spoken out against anti-Semitism, condemning Livingstone’s remarks and saying he had changed his mind about his 2009 call for sanctions against Israel.

“I’m determined to lead the most transparent, engaged and accessible administration London has ever seen, and to represent every single community and every single part of our city as a mayor for Londoners,” he said at a signing in ceremony at Southwark Cathedral Saturday.

A practicing Muslim who, according to the Daily Mail was the first British minister to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Khan has also been the target of Islamist death threats because of his liberal social views, particularly his support of same-sex marriage.

However, his opponent in the mayoral race criticized him for associating with Muslim extremists earlier in his career, including sharing the stage with an Islamist leader on multiple occasions. This week, according to the Daily Mail, Khan apologized for, in 2009, calling moderate Muslim groups “Uncle Toms.”

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