Sadiq Khan: Allyship with Jewish and Muslim communities essential amid Middle East conflict, says mayor
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Sadiq Khan has called on all Londoners to show “allyship, empathy, solidarity” with Jewish and Muslim communities amid heightened tensions due to the war in the Middle East.
The mayor made the comments while visiting a series of workshops this morning (November 3), each run by community projects tackling hate and extremism and backed by his Shared Endeavour Fund.
They included Shout Out UK, which runs sessions on media literacy and tackling issues such as disinformation, and Stand Up! Education Against Discrimination, a project focussing on antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate. More than 200 young people attended throughout the morning.
Speaking to LondonWorld, Mr Khan said he had met many “inspirational” young Londoners during the workshops, and that the skills they were learning are particularly important given the recent rise in hate crimes in the capital.
He said: “One of the things that occurred to me while I was in these workshops was wouldn’t it be great if everyone was able to go to some of these workshops and to hear some of the great leaders we have got talking about some of these stereotypes that can lead to people being prejudiced, talking about some of the consequences of racism, intolerance, extremism and hatred.
“We know these projects work because we evaluate them. We see the attitudes of young people before they start a project and their attitudes afterwards as well. We also hope they go home and speak to their parents and their families as well, because hatred happens for a variety of reasons.
"None of it is excusable, but it’s worth understanding what is at its core, and it’s really important to give people the confidence, particularly young people, to challenge all forms of hatred.”
Nikita Atwal, an education coordinator at Shout Out UK, said she often finds young people know more than they think they do about extremism and hate, and that she is “always surprised” by the workshops.
“I think it went really well. They were really engaged, they had some very insightful comments,” she said.
“I’m always learning.”
Nathan Servi, head of operations at Maccabi GB, which co-leads Stand Up! Education Against Discrimination, echoed this sentiment.
“Young people know what discrimination is,” he told LondonWorld. “Whenever we ask about if they have experienced any type of discrimination, they all put their hands up. We are not discussing something that is uncharted territory.”
Faheem Khan, founder of Future Leaders, a programme which works with young people to develop skills including tackling hate and intolerance, added the responses can be “really varied” among the thousands which engage with the project.
However, he said young people are feeling “really passionate about what’s happening currently and wanting to do their bit, and so overall young people are just grateful for the opportunity to have a safe space, to have their voices heard, and to have a platform where they can make a difference”.
‘Allyship, empathy, solidarity’
On what his priorities are when tensions between communities are inflamed in the capital, Mr Khan said a lot of the most important work, such as ensuring measures are in-place to build confidence to tackle prejudice and hatred, is ongoing regardless of the situation.
He however added it is essential that those living in the capital who are not Jewish or Muslim show support for those that are, and provide reassurance to impacted communities.
“One of the things that I think is really important is for those that aren’t Jewish, those that aren’t Muslim show allyship, empathy, solidarity with those that are,” he said.
“How many of us know, for example, that normally there are some schools that require protection, CCTV, security guards for no other reason than they’re Jewish schools? How many people know there are some places of worship in our city that require security, CCTV, protection for no other reason but because they’re synagogues?
“And so understanding that makes you a better neighbour, colleague and friend, but is also really reassuring for those Jewish Londoners as well.”
Since the outbreak of the most recent conflict in the Middle East on October 7, reported instances of antisemitism and Islamophobia have risen drastically in London.
Multiple protests, both pro-Palestine and pro-Israel, have been held in the last few weeks, and Mr Khan is among a growing contingent of Labour mayors, MPs and councillors to have called for a ceasefire.