London mayor Sadiq Khan has said he will use Ramadan to try and break down cultural barriers.
Speaking at a round table briefing, the newly elected London mayor told journalists that he would use the holy month to “show Londoners who may not understand the faith of Islam what the true Islam really is.”
He said: “I recognise that some people do give Islam a bad name and so I am keen to use this moment to not simply do my best to fast and be a good person but also try and break down barriers.”
Khan will open his fast in churches, synagogues and mosques during the four weeks and is keen to keep all his mayoral commitments this month.
“I am not a Muslim spokesperson…I am the mayor of all Londoners, but I am also a Muslim so I accept the responsibility I have as somebody in a position of influence in public life to do what I can to reassure people that actually Muslims are peaceful, lawabiding, proud to be British and proud to be Londoners,” Khan said.
“So if we can break down barriers it’s a good thing, If it leads to community cohesion, its a good thing.”
The Labour politician is hoping to dispel the myth that terrorists who commit atrocities in the name of Islam represent the faith.
“I accept that if you are someone who has never met a Muslim, has never worked with a Muslim, and your only experience of Islam is what you see on the TV, you may be under the impression that the people who do horrible things, commit acts of terror…and then justify their acts in the name of Islam, you may think wrongly what they reflect represents Islam,” he said.
Khan was accused of having links with extremists by his opponent Zac Goldsmith and David Cameron during his election campaign in what was widely condemned as a racist attack.
However, he has since been out on the stump with the prime minister urging voters to remain in the EU ahead of next Thursday’s referendum.
“The campaign to remain in the EU is more important than the differences David Cameron and I may have,” Khan explained.
“I can’t allow our differences to come in the way of an election as important as this. I said during my campaign, if there are things that I think are in London’s interest, I will work closely with the government. I won’t allow my own vanity to get in the way of what is in the interest of London.
“The EU brings to this city more than half a million jobs. There are huge cultural benefits and huge social benefits.”