Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor, has made no secret of his opposition to President Trump visiting the United Kingdom, but he went further in an interview with CNN.
“State visits are different from a normal visit and at a time when the President of the USA has policies that many in our country disagree with, I am not sure it is appropriate for our government to roll out the red carpet,” Khan said.
Donald Trump is enormously unpopular in the United Kingdom. About 77 percent of British voters hold unfavorable opinions of the U.S. president, according to YouGov.
About two million people signed a petition earlier this year calling for Trump’s state invitation to be canceled.
For his part, President Trump has told British Prime Minister Theresa May that he won’t visit Britain until he gets better press treatment, according to the Washington Examiner.
Trump reportedly told May “if you can fix it [the media] for me, it would make things a lot easier. When I know I’m going to get better reception, I’ll come and not before.”
Like the United States, Britain has a free press, so it wasn’t clear what Trump expected the prime minister to do. British tabloids are notoriously hard on politicians.
Khan went on to challenge the idea that one had to do choose between being a Westerner and being a Muslim.
“If you somehow think it is not possible to be a Muslim and a proud westerner I am happy to disabuse you of that idea, whether you are a reporter for CNN or Donald Trump,” he told CNN.
Khan’s election victory last May came just prior to the shock vote of Brexit. His Muslim background was part of his appeal, with some outlets referring to him as the UK’s Barack Obama with his urbane intelligence and diverse background. His prominent position in UK politics comes at a particularly sensitive time for the country’s Muslim community, which has suffered backlash after Sunni supremacists launched multiple terror attacks in Britain this spring, including the Manchester suicide bombing that killed 22 people, mostly teen fans.
His challenges to Donald Trump are often seen within the prism of the global push back to Trump’s values, which Britons, as well as Europeans in general, find unfavorable in a number of polls.
[Featured Image by Jack Taylor/Getty Images]