Two political events happened this week that made deep connections in my mind, even though they happened continents apart. It’s funny how sometimes the most disparate things make us think philosophical thoughts that interconnect in the most important ways.
Event # 1: Donald Trump gets handed the Republican nominee on a silver platter. I know… who in the world expected this? I have a feeling that even Mr. Trump himself didn’t really think this would happen. Much has been written about the dangerous rhetoric spewed by him and his supporters, and who among us hasn’t wondered what type of people are actually voting for this person? But this current development raises serious questions about a potential change in the Republican party and the future of our country. A man who wins elections based on his promise to deport millions, bar millions more from entering the nation, and punishing innocent people abroad says something not just about himself but about some part of our national psyche. Event #1 has me worried about myself and my children in a very elementary way.
But then another event happened which gave me hope for the future.
Event # 2: Sadiq Khan, a Pakistani British man, won London’s mayoral elections and is now slated to be the first Muslim mayor of London. Let’s face it, you don’t have to be Muslim to appreciate the significance of this historic news. During a time when the conservative right is winning elections in the rest of Europe, and outcry against immigrants (and refugees) is loud in a number of countries, a Muslim winning this important position speaks first and foremost to the spirit of diversity and tolerance that is alive and well in the heart of Europe. This election should give us hope in the same way that the election of President Obama did eight years ago, regardless of our individual political preferences: the hope and promise that one day we can move beyond race, culture and religion.
Shelina Janmohammad, British author, wrote the following on her Facebook page to express what a Sadiq Khan victory means for everyone, not only Muslims and certainly not only Londoners:
Feeling extremely proud to be a Londoner. Our great city rejected a campaign based on hatred racism and smears. As a city we should take a moment to relish the fact that anyone of any background can through the opportunities afforded by the city and through personal determination become mayor. Well done Sadiq Khan. Well done London. After savouring this moment we need to turn ourselves to push the Conservative party to review the anti-Muslim problem it harbours in its ranks. But for today, sunshine and hope.
And if that is true of London, it can also be true of America. Inshallah. God willing.
Saadia Faruqi is an interfaith activist, speaker and author of Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan. Visit her website at www.saadiafaruqi.com or follow her on Twitter @saadiafaruqi