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Muslim candidate Sadiq Khan leading in London's mayoral race

"I am a Londoner first and foremost, but it would show the haters in Iraq and the haters in Syria what sort of country we are: a beacon," said Sadiq Khan.

By
Shawn Price
Sadiq Khan, 45, could be London's first Muslim mayor. He would not be the first Muslim mayor in Europe, but his election would come at a time of rising Islamophobia in Europe. Photo by IR Stone/Shutterstock
Sadiq Khan, 45, could be London's first Muslim mayor. He would not be the first Muslim mayor in Europe, but his election would come at a time of rising Islamophobia in Europe. Photo by IR Stone/Shutterstock

LONDON, April 18 (UPI) -- London could have its first Muslim mayor in three weeks at a time of rising Islamophobia across Europe.

If the Sadiq Khan's lead holds over Zac Goldsmith, he would be the second Muslim elected as mayor of a European city -- Rotterdam in the Netherlands elected the first in 2009.

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Just a month after the Brussels terror attack, five months after the Paris terror attacks and just as much of western Europe struggles with an influx of Syrian refugees, Khan has made it clear electing him would send a message: Londoners value diversity.

"I am a Londoner first and foremost, but it would show the haters in Iraq and the haters in Syria what sort of country we are: a beacon," he said.

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The YouGov polling firm in March had Khan with a seven-point lead over Goldsmith.

Khan grew up one of eight kids in a crowded South London apartment. He escaped the lower working class neighborhood to study law at the University of North London, and became a human rights lawyer before he was elected to Parliament in 2005 as a member of the Labour Party.

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He studied law at the University of North London and later practiced as a human rights solicitor before being elected to Parliament in 2005 representing the ward he grew up in on a Labour Party ticket.

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He has also served as minister of state for communities and transport minister.

Goldsmith doesn't have the popularity of current London Mayor Boris Johnson, so if Khan is able to get out the vote in more liberal inner London, he could beat Goldsmith, who is more popular in London's more conservative outer districts.

Khan is dependent on big turnout, but analysis firm London Communications Agency suggested Labour will help him make history.

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