TOO many British people have never had a Muslim friend, Labour London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan said yesterday as he vowed to tackle extremism by ending “social segregation.”
Mr Khan, tipped to be elected London’s first Muslim mayor in May, also said too many Muslims are living in cultural silos as he responded to the Paris terror attacks in a speech to Parliament’s Press Gallery.
He said: “As a result, too many people have formed a single identity — too often based around their religion or ethnicity.
“This creates the conditions for extremism and radicalisation to take hold. Social segregation will not go away on its own.”
Mr Khan, whose parents came to Britain from Pakistan, told journalists tackling extremism would be a “personal fight.”
“It’s affected my personal life, my friendships, and my career,” he said, recalling how he was targeted by extremists who claimed standing for election is not permitted under Islam.
The former human rights lawyer also explained how he “had the unpleasant job of representing people with extremist views.”
And he said British Muslims had a “special role” to play in tackling extremism.
“Not because we are more responsible than others — as some have wrongly claimed,” he said, “but because we can be more effective at tackling extremism than anyone else.”
Mr Khan promised to “overhaul” the Prevent anti-terror programme, saying: “Decent, law-abiding people view these programmes as counter-productive.”