Khan apologises after suggesting rabbi’s criticism was because of his Islamic faith

London mayor expressed his frustration at being “held to a different standard” because of his religion, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Rabbi (credit Noah Vickers/LDRS)
Sadiq Rabbi (credit Noah Vickers/LDRS)

Sadiq Khan has apologised to the Chief Rabbi after appearing to imply that his criticism of the mayor’s call for an immediate Gaza ceasefire was motivated by him being Muslim.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis had said in a post on Twitter on 31st October that, after meeting Khan, he had explained to the mayor that “a ceasefire now would be an irresponsible stepping stone to yet more Hamas terrorist brutality”.

In a YouTube interview this week with the broadcaster Mehdi Hasan, Khan said he was “disappointed” by the criticism levelled at him by “Jewish leaders and Jewish friends”.

He pointed out that Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham called for a ceasefire very shortly after him, but suggested that he did not receive similar criticism from the Chief Rabbi or the Jewish Chronicle newspaper. Khan told Hasan: “I’d ask those Jewish people to just pause and reflect on their response to me calling for a ceasefire.

“What motivated them to come back in the way they did against the mayor of London and the mayor of Greater Manchester? I’ll give you a clue – he’s not called Ahmed Burani, he’s called Andy Burnham, whereas I’m called Sadiq Khan.”

In a statement of apology today (Friday 26th), the London mayor said: “I have been in contact with the Chief Rabbi to apologise for my comments, which I deeply regret.

This story is published by Enfield Dispatch, Enfield's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

“He has, along with other Jewish leaders, been a friend to me, and we have worked hard together to unite our city and celebrate our diversity.

“At times it is clear to me, and others, that as a mayor of London of Islamic faith, I am held to a different standard and that can be frustrating – particularly during a divisive election campaign.

“But, it wasn’t fair of me to have levelled that frustration at the Chief Rabbi. I am sorry for any hurt this has caused and will continue working with Jewish leaders to build a safer London for everyone.”

London minister Greg Hands, MP for Chelsea and Fulham, criticised Khan’s original remarks as “misguided and offensive”.

He said: “I welcome Sadiq Khan’s apology. But his original comment was misguided and offensive.

“Part of the role of Mayor of London should be to calm community tensions not to be inflammatory.”

Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall said: “It’s important we continue to bring communities in our great city together.”

The row came just days before the 2nd May polling day for the London mayoral contest. The latest poll, by Savanta for the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London, put Khan ahead of Tory Susan Hall by 13 points.

The gap between the Labour mayor and Conservative candidate appears to have closed since the start of the mayoral race, though the polls use different methodologies. Uncertainty over this year’s result has been heightened by the switch to the first-past-the-post voting system and the need for photo ID to be able to vote.

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

In celebration of Indie News Week, Public Interest News Foundation's Indie News Fund will match fund all donations, including new annual supporter subscriptions for the month of June.

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month. £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.  

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or yearly 

More Information about donations