London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks during a forum in Long Island City. (Photo: Madina Toure for Observer)
Khan said he was especially impressed by de Blasio’s “Tale of Two Cities” campaign message, saying de Blasio “managed to articulate a mood and a feeling that New York has felt and I feel that London has felt and still feels.”
He said that it is important to note that “we have multiple layers of identity”: he says he is proud of his British, European, Asian, Muslim and Pakistani identities.
“When you become a successful politician, whether it’s a mayor, a member of parliament or a president—it’s really important to be inclusive,” Khan said. “During my campaign, we had a strap line which I genuinely believe in, which is a mayor for all Londoners. I will say this with humility but to be frank: I’m not a Muslim mayor, I am a mayor of Islamic faith.”
De Blasio touted his 10-year affordable housing plan and his universal pre-kindergarten initiative as signs that he has addressed the “Tale of Two Cities” dilemma. He said that creating affordable housing on a massive scale gets “at the heart of the number one expense in people’s lives” and that universal pre-K provides “educational opportunities across the board.”
“I think what you (Khan) did in your campaign was we said, ‘It’s time to say this out loud and address it,'” de Blasio said. “The good news is you can, you actually can address it.”
And though neither mayor directly named—and said they wouldn’t—Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, it was clear where the two mayors stood on the upcoming election in November.
Khan said his opponent was creating the impression that London “wasn’t ready to elect a politician of Islamic faith” and that some of the “worst sorts of Islamophobia you’ve ever seen were commented on during the campaign.”
He said his approach was to “energize, infuse and excite people” to join his campaign, giving people a choice of “hope over fear, unity over division”—something he believes will play out similarly in the upcoming presidential election.
“And I’m optimistic over the next few weeks and months, I shouldn’t really get involved in the American election,” he said, to roaring laughter. “And I hope the best candidate wins and I’m sure she will,” he said, namelessly referring to Clinton as both de Blasio and the crowd laughed and applauded.
“That was very subtle,” de Blasio said in response.