The first Muslim mayor of the UK capital said that the torrent of Islamophobic insults and death threats is so disturbing that the authorities have to arrange round-the-clock police protection for the official.
“I will not be cowed or bullied by these people, but you can’t escape the fact that those close to me are worried,” Sadiq Khan told The Times. He explained further: “It can’t be right that one of the consequences of me being the mayor of London and a Muslim in public life is that I have police protection.”
Khan, a son of Pakistani immigrants, alarmed that radicalization of political debate in the UK – particularly around Brexit referendum – contributed to the rise of extremism. “People have got the impression, wrongly, that it’s OK to use the p-word or the n-word or the y-word when it comes to Asians, black or Jewish people,” the mayor lamented.
“It starts with name-calling; it can lead to criminal damage and graffiti [and] ultimately to the situation where Jo Cox is murdered or a terrorist can come to London and try to divide communities.”
That aside, City Hall reported 17 abusive messages to the police and registered 237 threats against Khan that were made on social media in just three months last year. Some of them were reportedly so disturbing that staff reading through the content were offered counseling to help them deal with the impact, according to the Times.