By Jacob Bojesson
London is expected to elect its first-ever Muslim mayor Thursday, despite opponents presenting evidence of his past ties to radical Islam.
Sadiq Khan, a member of parliament for the center-left Labour Party, holds a 20-point lead in polls going into Thursday’s election. If elected, Khan would become the first Muslim mayor in a major Western capital. But past dealings with radical Islam continue to haunt him.
Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith, backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, has criticized Khan for giving “platform, oxygen and cover” to extremists throughout his political career.
Most notably, Khan campaigned at an event in 2004 alongside five extremist preachers while running for parliament. He simultaneously served as the chair of the Muslim Council of Britain’s legal affairs committee, which defended Muslim scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi when he was subject to a ban from entering the United Kingdom.
Al-Qaradawi authored “The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam,” in which he defends the practice of wife-beating, discusses whether gays should be killed and calls suicide bombings against Israeli citizens “God’s justice.”
Khan said “there is a consensus among Islamic scholars that Mr Al-Qaradawi is not the extremist that he is painted as being,” during a testimony in parliament. Al-Qaradawi was later banned from entering the United Kingdom in 2008.
Another headache was handed to Khan Friday when a 1997 video of his former brother-in-law, Makabool Javaid, went viral. The video shows Javaidpreaching anti-West propaganda during a rally for Sharia law in Britain.
“Yet again, Khan is showing terrible judgement on who he associates with,” Conservative member of parliament Andrew Bridgen said of the video, in an interview with The Sun. “He’s clearly experimented with the wrong company.”
Khan has condemned his former brother-in-law’s beliefs, and says he hasn’t had contact with him for more than a decade. He has responded to accusations of sympathizing with extremists by calling himself “the British Muslim who takes the fight to the extremists.”
Despite the allegations, Khan’s lead appears to be too large for opponents to catch with just a few days to go.