London Mayor Sadiq Khan hit back at President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on him and his city and said his remarks were “amplifying messages of hate” and boosting the far-right.
Khan spoke to VICE News Friday in response to Trump’s explosive interview with British tabloid The Sun, in which the visiting U.S. president said Europe was “losing its culture” because of immigration. He also blamed Khan for crime and terrorism in the British capital.
“You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London,” Trump said in the interview, published on the second day of his U.K. trip. “I think he has done a very bad job on terrorism. I think he has done a bad job on crime, if you look, all of the horrible things going on there, with all of the crime that is being brought in.”
Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, questioned why Trump singled out him for criticism — and not for the first time — when terrorist attacks have also hit many other European cities.
“It’s not for me to say whether President Trump is a racist or Islamophobe — that’s for others to comment on,” Khan said. “But it’s for him to explain why [he] singled out the mayor of London when there have been terror attacks in Manchester, in Nice, in Brussels, in Berlin, in Paris.”
“All of us are trying to grapple with the evils of terrorism,” he added.
Trump had previously attacked Khan on Twitter in June last year — just hours after a deadly terror attack in central London. “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack, and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” Trump tweeted, which prompted Khan to respond that Trump was “ill-informed” and had taken his comment out of context.
Trump’s comments on immigration, Khan said, were “amplifying messages of hate” and “giving credibility to far-right groups.”
“What troubles people, including me, is the normalisation of views that we find abhorrent,” he said.
Despite his frank comments, Khan said he wasn’t interested in continuing his long-running feud with Trump, which had been upsetting for his family.
“It takes two to tango,” he said. “You’ve got the leader of the free world, arguably the most powerful man in the world, apparently obsessed about the mayor of London. I’m not going to rise to some of the things that he’s said because I want to demonstrate that we’re bigger than that.”