Sadiq Khan

'Together we must root out antisemitism'


May 26, 2016 00:01

One of my most humbling experiences was joining 150 Holocaust survivors in Barnet earlier this month for Yom Hashoah at the Copthall Stadium.

It was a privilege and an honour to meet them and their families, and to hear their stories, many of which will stay with me forever.

The event was my first official engagement as the newly elected Mayor of London, with the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, and thousands of Londoners from the Jewish community. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder to reflect and remember the six million Jewish lives that were lost during the Holocaust.

Part of the great work that organisations like the Holocaust Educational Trust do is about ensuring young people learn and understand what happened during this dark time.

I’ve seen this first hand when, as MP for Tooting, I joined local school students on an HET trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

And this work is now more important than ever with antisemitism on the rise again.

Sadly, for many people here in London, antisemitism is a very present problem. Over the last five years, antisemitic offences in the capital have increased by 153 per cent with 267 more offences in 2015 compared to 2011.

There are schools in London that need security simply because they are Jewish faith schools. There are places of worship that require protection simply because they are synagogues.

This simply isn’t good enough.

As a British Muslim, I am no stranger to discrimination and prejudice. I know what it’s like to be discriminated against just because of your background or religion. That’s why I am determined to fight racism in all its forms and will make challenging the alarming rise in antisemitism in recent years a priority.

I am proud to sign the Mayors United Against Antisemitism pledge and I will encourage other mayors across the country and Europe to do the same.

We need to send the message far and wide that antisemitism is totally unacceptable and can never be justified.
We must work together to root out antisemitism wherever we find it — and, yes, that includes within the Labour Party.

As the Mayor of London, I will be adopting a strict zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism and all hate crime —whether it’s on the basis of someone’s age, sexuality, gender, religion, race, nationality or disability.

That’s why I want our police officers to have the resources and training they need to investigate hate crime fully, and to ensure we have neighbourhood police teams that understand and reflect the communities they serve.

I will also be looking at what more can be done to protect people on public transport and work with Transport for London and the British Transport Police to stamp out hate crime and reassure passengers.

But, perhaps most importantly, I want to give victims the courage and support they need to report each and every incident.

I pay tribute to the excellent work of the Community Security Trust, which, working with our police officers, does a vital job in reassuring and encouraging victims to come forward.

One of the great things about the CST is that they have always been willing to share their knowledge and expertise to help other communities establish similar organisations of their own, and I hope that this continues.

The Board of Deputies also does fantastic work to help protect Jewish communal interests and it’s a pleasure to be able to work with them, as well as groups like Mitzvah Day, and all of London’s faith communities, to promote unity and understanding across our city.

I am proud that London is a city where, the vast majority of the time, Jewish people, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, those who are not members of an organised faith, black, white, rich, young, gay, lesbian don’t simply tolerate each other, but respect, embrace and celebrate each other.

I want to send a message around the world by being the London Mayor of Islamic faith who does more to protect Jewish Londoners from antisemitism than any mayor in this city’s history.

Any attack on Jewish people or the Jewish community should be considered an attack on all of London’s communities and everything we stand for.

Everyone has a part to play — so let’s work together and ensure that London continues to be a global beacon of tolerance, acceptance and respect.

May 26, 2016 00:01

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