Of a mayor and a scribe

LONDON mayor Ken Livingstone can hardly be described as a loose canon. He has been known for advocating a multicultural society and championing respect for religious and ethnic minorities.

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Published: Sun 27 Feb 2005, 9:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:43 PM

At the height of the ‘terror war’ in the West, Livingstone went against the Labour party line to reach out to the Muslims in Britain embracing eminent Islamic scholar Yusuf al Qaradawi at a public meeting. This is why the mayor’s outburst against a Jewish journalist from the Evening Standard has surprised many in the British media and establishment.

What is not surprising though is the strong reaction to Livingstone’s slip of the tongue. The mayor has been bombarded with thousands of e-mails and phone calls — many of them abusive — asking him to apologise or face consequences. After PM Blair advised the mayor to say ‘sorry’, Israel’s UK ambassador has joined the issue with Livingstone saying the snub of Jewish scribe has hurt the sentiments of Jews around the world. Without going into Livingstone’s remarks, we would like to point out that there are lessons for other communities including Muslims in the episode. The reaction of the Jewish community to the racial slur is worth emulating. The Arabs-Muslims daily come across such abuse but seldom react. Maybe because despite their impressive numbers and resources they are not powerful enough to assert themselves on the world stage. Apparently, strength does not lie in numbers; it’s found in unity of purpose.

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