London’s newly elected Muslim Mayor, Sadiq Khan, paid respects on Sunday to the millions of Jews slain in the Holocaust, as his first official act in office.
Khan made Sunday’s appearance at a north London ceremony after a racially charged election campaign during which Conservative Party opponents sought to portray him as an apologist for Islamic extremism and to highlight cases of alleged anti-Semitism within the ranks of Khan’s Labour Party.
The annual Yom HaShoah event inside a rugby stadium brought together thousands from London’s Jewish community, including more than 150 Holocaust survivors and a combined choir from five Jewish elementary schools. Khan attended alongside Lord Levy, one of Labour’s most senior Jewish supporters and the party’s former lead fundraiser.
Khan said he was honored to “meet and hear from Jewish survivors and refugees who went through the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust.”
London’s previous Labour mayor, Ken Livingstone, was suspended last month from the party after he claimed that Adolf Hitler had supported the Zionist aim of establishing Israel. Livingstone, who served as mayor from 2000 to 2008, has defended his comments and has vowed to fight potential expulsion from Britain’s main opposition party.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has established an independent inquiry into the extent of anti-Semitic views within party ranks. The left-wing party traditionally has sympathized with Palestinian demands for nationhood and adopted a critical line on Israel.
“Labour is an anti-racist party to its core and has a long and proud history of standing against racism, including anti-Semitism,” Corbyn said when establishing the fact-finding probe April 29. It is supposed to recommend party reforms including sanctions against members who adopt bigoted positions.