(CNSNews.com) – Britain’s left-wing opposition leader on Tuesday criticized President Trump for his scathing comments about London Mayor Sadiq Khan – “particularly today on the wonderful festival of Eid” – and said he was proud the capital has a Muslim mayor.
Trump’s comments about Khan had nothing to do with his religion, but Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn chose to invoke Islam as he addressed anti-Trump protestors in Trafalgar Square.
“I’m very disappointed, particularly today on the wonderful festival of Eid [al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan], that our mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been attacked in the way that he has,” Corbyn said.
“I am proud that our city has a Muslim mayor, that we can chase down Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, any form of racism within our society,” he added.
Trump’s spat with Khan, a Labour member, goes back three years but was rekindled on the eve of his state visit to the United Kingdom: Khan in a weekend op-ed characterized the president as a poster boy for the “global far-right movement” and urged Prime Minister Theresa May to reject “Trump and the far-right agenda he embodies.”
In reply, Trump called Khan a “stone-cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.”
“By all accounts” Khan has done a bad job as mayor, he said, comparing him unflatteringly to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
While sharply critical, Trump’s comments did not refer to Khan’s religion.
‘A negative force’
During a joint press conference with May, Trump was asked about the fact he was meeting with the outgoing prime minister even as the head of the official opposition was addressing protestors.
Trump in reply offered a few more observations about both Corbyn and Khan.
He said he does not know Corbyn, having never met or spoken to him.
“He wanted to meet today or tomorrow, and I decided that I would not do that,” he said. “I think that he is – from where I come from – somewhat of a negative force.”
“I think that the people should look to do things correctly as opposed to criticize. I really don’t like critics as much as I like and respect people that get things done,” Trump said. “So I’ve decided not to meet.”
On Khan, Trump repeated his view that the mayor has “done a poor job.”
“Crime is up – a lot of problems,’ he said. “And I don’t think he should be criticizing a representative of the United States that can do so much good for the United Kingdom.”
Trump described Khan as “a negative force” whose comments hurt “the people of this great country.”
“And I think he should actually focus on his job. It’d be a lot better if he did that,” he said. “He could straighten out some of the problems that he has – and probably some of the problems that he’s caused.”
May added, “I would say to both the mayor of London and to Jeremy Corbyn: The discussions that we have had today are about the future of this most important relationship between the U.S. and the U.K., as the president described it, the greatest alliance the world has seen.”
“It is this deep, special relationship and partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom that ensures our safety and security, and the safety and security of others around the world, too,” she added.
“And it is this relationship that helps to ensure there are jobs that employ people here in the U.K. and in the United States that underpins our prosperity and our future. That is a relationship we should cherish. It is a relationship we should build on. It is a relationship we should be proud of.”
‘A terrific thing’
When Khan was elected as London’s first Muslim mayor in mid-2016, Trump was running for the White House, and his reaction was positive.
Telling the New York Times that he hoped Khan would do a “very good job,” he stressed the importance of leading by example, and said, “If he does a good job and frankly if he does a great job, that would be a terrific thing.”
Khan did not reciprocate. In comments about candidate Trump’s proposal for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. due to terrorism concerns the new mayor said that his “ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe.”
Four months later Khan during a visit to Chicago was quoted as describing himself – some six weeks before the presidential election – as a big fan” of Hillary Clinton and told reporters he hoped she would win.
In a speech in the city, Khan said, “I think it’s important for those of us who are foreigners to stay out of the U.S. elections. I hope the best candidate wins and I hope she does win with a stomping majority.”