Sadiq Khan: Describing capital as 'Londonistan' risks fuelling tensions amid Hamas-Israel war, mayor warns

The mayor said that “all of us, me included, have got to be cognisant of the consequences of words”.
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Sadiq Khan has warned his London Assembly Members to be “cognisant” of the language they use in-light of the conflict between Hamas and Israel, citing the use of the term “Londonistan”.

Mr Khan was responding to a question by Tory assembly member and mayoral candidate Susan Hall, who has previously faced criticism for sharing a tweet using the word in a derogatory way.

He also praised the “proactive” response of the Met Police, during a suitably sombre start to this morning’s Mayor’s Question Time (October 12).

Mr Khan opened the session by telling assembly members: “I want to place on record my condemnation of the sickening terrorist attacks committed by Hamas against Israel over the weekend. There is no justification for the murder of innocent people.”

He said there can be “no justification” for Hamas’ attack on Israel, and that he believes it is “consistent” to be pro-Palestinine as an independent state and to also “condemn unequivocally what happened over the weekend".

"I don’t think these issues should be conflated," he said.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images.Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images.

Mr Khan noted data from the Community Security Trust (CST), which indicated a 324% increase across the country in antisemitic incidents since October 7. 

“I am acutely aware that these events have left Jewish Londoners feeling shaken and fearful. In fact, I’m yet to meet a single Jewish Londoner who hasn’t been affected,” he said.

“As well as Jewish Londoners, there are also many Palestinian, Muslim and Christian Londoners who are deeply worried about the safety of friends, family and loved ones.”

Ms Hall described the images coming from Israel as “horrific and heartbreaking”.

“I feel this is an issue that goes beyond politics, and no matter our political differences, I do welcome the work that you’ve done to ensure the Met Police provides further reassurance to our communities.”

She said there are 17 British citizens currently confirmed dead or missing, two from Harrow, before telling members it is important not to “unfairly blame ordinary Muslim families here in London for Hamas’s actions”.

Susan Hall, the Conservative London mayoral candidate. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images.Susan Hall, the Conservative London mayoral candidate. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images.
Susan Hall, the Conservative London mayoral candidate. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images.

Responding, Mr Khan said that “when you describe our great city as Londonistan, you can understand why Muslims are concerned, in relation to Islamophobic attacks and hate crime”.

He added that “all of us, me included, have got to be cognisant of the consequences of words”.

Mr Khan’s comments relate to a 2019 tweet from Katie Hopkins describing him as “our nipple height mayor of Londonistan”, to which Ms Hall replied “Thank you Katie!” and shared the post.

Ms Hall has come under pressure over her historic activity on X, which includes liking a photo of former Conservative politician Enoch Powell, most famous for his racist “rivers of blood” speech, alongside the quote: “It’s never too late to get London back.”

Asked by Labour Anne Clarke what he is hearing from communities in London, the mayor, referencing his visit to Golders Green earlier this week, said the attack over the weekend had “traumatised” a lot of Londoners, and that his impression was that they are “frightened”.

“If you’re somebody whose family has survived or experienced the holocaust, and the stories of the 1930s, and you hear about Jewish windows being smashed, it causes real distress. So I was keen to go along and meet as soon as possible colleagues from that part of London.”

He said he will take a “zero tolerance approach” to hate crime in the capital, and that perpetrators will feel “the full force of the law”.