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Sadiq Khan: I’ll use Ramadan to help build bridges between communities

12Sadiq Khan today told Londoners he would be using Ramadan to “get out there and build bridges” between the capital’s different communities.
The Mayor, a practising Muslim, said he hoped that the holy month would help “break down the mystique and suspicion” that existed around his  religion.
In a message to mark the start of  Ramadan, he said it was a time for all Londoners to come together to reflect on values of charity, peace, justice and tolerance.
He added: “It is a great opportunity to unite our many diverse communities and faith groups at charitable events and iftars [the post-sunset meal at which Ramadan observers break their fast] across the city.”
Mr Khan admitted he found the prospect of fasting particularly daunting this year because of his busy mayoral diary.
“Fasting is a big challenge, and also a great leveller. Rich or poor, Muslims observe the fast together at the same time, and break bread together when the sun goes down. Community fasting is a way of building empathy towards those who are less fortunate.”
Since his victory in last month’s election Mr Khan has been held up globally as a symbol of the capital’s openness and diversity.
But he said he did not want to be defined solely by his faith: “We all have multiple identities — I’m a Londoner, a son and a father — and City Hall isn’t a pulpit.” He added that Ramadan was a “great opportunity” to overcome suspicions about Islam.
“If you’re someone who doesn’t have Muslim friends and your only experience of Islam is what you see on the news — the angry man with a beard doing or saying something terrible —you may inadvertently associate that with Islam and think that is what it’s all about,” he wrote in The Guardian.
“There is a role that Muslims in the public eye play: to reassure people that we are OK … We have the most diverse city in the world, but we don’t have people mixing as much as they could. I want to enable people to have a sense of belonging.” Mr Khan will be hosting iftars around the city at synagogues, churches and mosques. At the end of the month there will be a festival in Trafalgar Square to celebrate Eid.
He admitted he was often “miserable” during the holy month because in the past he had to attend “lots and lots of boring meetings” without coffee.
“My diary is still full for Ramadan — we’ve got the EU referendum coming up and I could even have to open my fast on stage with a glass of water at an event. That’s part and parcel of it.”