Muslim Mayor of London’s ULEZ campaign exposes innate Islamophobia

A newly published investigation by the Greater London Authority has revealed record levels of hate mail targeted at the London Mayor, referencing his Muslim background and his Pakistan heritage in crude and derogatory language.  

High levels of racial abuse noted during the Mayor’s row with US President Donald Trump

Sadiq Khan was elected in 2016 as Mayor of London and became the first Muslim mayor of London and of any major Western capital. Since his election he has received over 304,000 racist messages, the majority of which are linked to his Muslim and Pakistani heritage. The research found that levels of abuse rose significantly during the Mayor’s public row with Donald Trump in 2019, when Trump referred to Khan as a ‘stone cold loser’ after Khan attacked the then US President’s plans to ban Muslims from travel to the US. At that time, studies indicated that a lot of the abuse was coming from outside the UK.

Record levels of abuse since ULEZ Expansion scheme announced

The report noted that abuse has reached altogether new levels since Khan announced plans to expand London’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ), with the number of abusive messages increasing by as much as 200% in the first three months of 2023. The quantity of racially abusive messages received in just the first three months of 2023 reached 11,000, higher than the number received during the whole of 2022.

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s office gave a statement in reference to the report’s findings and said:

‘Sadiq has always faced huge levels of racist abuse online, with the volume of attacks increasing again substantially in recent weeks…Policies that address air quality and public health have undoubtedly become a major focus of online hate in the UK and across the world’

Those with legitimate objections to ULEZ should not be ‘joining hands’ with far-right sympathisers

Although Mayor Khan has yet to respond himself to the report, he is on record as saying at a public town hall meeting in March this year, that he regarded as unacceptable that those with legitimate objections to ULEZ were ‘joining hands’ with far-right sympathisers.

The Mayor’s ULEZ expansion seems likely to work against his hopes of being re-elected in 2024 for a third term, as he pushes forward with plans to extend the scope of the scheme to cover almost all of the Greater London area, which will render non inner-city suburban households, an additional 5 million people, subject effectively to a new tax at a time of high inflation and a cost of living crisis.

Five local authorities have challenged the Mayor’s plans in the High Court

Mayor Khan currently faces legal challenges mounted by at least five local authorities in the High Court this week on Tuesday, who argue that the extra charge of £12.50 a day on drivers of non-compliant vehicles is untenable and unlawful. Sadiq Khan’s office has insisted that the Mayor is determined to face down his critics in order to tackle pollution and improve air quality in the capital city, which he argues is simply echoing similar initiatives in cities across Europe.


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