London’s first Muslim Mayor, Sadiq Khan knows a thing or two about diversity: he dropped in to ‘daven’ (pray, in Yiddish) while he was in town in the Windy City, Chicago over the Sabbath.
Khan has spent the past few days on a whirlwind interfaith tour that started in Montreal and has now led him to New York City, but had him in at least two synagogues over the Sabbath during a very brief visit to the North side of Chicago.
The London mayor attended services with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the modern Orthodox Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel synagogue, the Evening Standard reported, and on the same day he also made a brief stop at Temple Sholom, a Reform synagogue. Both are in the same area.
“London is an incredibly diverse and tolerant city,” he said, “but improving social integration is still one of the big challenges we face. That’s why I’m keen to hear from people of many different faiths here in the U.S. to learn from their experiences and to share ideas on how we can bring communities together and strengthen the social fabric that underpins any successful city.
“I want to tell everyone around the world, loud and clear, that London is open to people of all faiths and backgrounds,” he said.
But earlier in the week, he told a group, “We play straight into the hands of those who seek to divide us, of extremists and terrorists around the world, when we imply that it is not possible to hold Western values and to be a Muslim.”
Khan made the comment Thursday while speaking before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He added that what is needed is to build “bridges, rather than walls,” in what appeared to be a response to the proposal by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to build a wall at the U.S. border with Mexico.
On Sunday night, Khan tweeted a photo of himself speaking on a panel with New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio at La Guardia Community College, “discussing social integration & how faith communities can help bring people together.”
In addition to an especially warm welcome from the congregation at St. Alban’s Church in Queens on Sunday morning, Khan was given the honor of throwing the first pitch at Sunday’s Mets game. (#LetsGoMets, he tweeted.)
This just proves that the British really envy the American sport of baseball after all: it beats cricket.
But not everything was humor and light: Khan was also smart enough to acknowledge the attempted multi-site terror attack that succeeded at least in one location Saturday night, in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood, where 29 people were wounded by shrapnel from a pressure cooker bomb. As a resident of London, the mayor is no stranger to terror: “My thoughts are with all those injured in last night’s explosion in New York and all New Yorkers,” he tweeted. “This is a great city, and a resilient one.”
Hana Levi Julian