London Mayor Sadiq Khan criticises Trump during US visit, says division plays into hands of ISIS

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Sept 15, 2016.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Sept 15, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

CHICAGO (AFP/REUTERS) - Visiting London mayor Sadiq Khan on Thursday (Sept 15) criticised Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's comments on Muslim immigration.

During his roughly 45-minute speech in Chicago, Mr Khan did not mention Mr Trump by name but attacked the positions the New York developer has staked, such as tightening Muslim immigration into the United States.

"I think to suggest somehow that Muslims aren't welcome in the USA, to suggest somehow that being a Muslim isn't compatible with being western, unintentionally plays into the hands of Daesh or so-called ISIS," Mr Khan said, referring to terror group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

"We play straight into the hands of those who seek to divide us, of extremists and terrorists around the world, when we imply that it's not possible to hold Western values dear and to be a Muslim," Mr Khan said to applause from an audience at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. It was his first visit to the US as London's mayor.

"People shouldn't have to drop their cultures and traditions when they arrive in our cities and countries," Mr Khan said, "We all have multiple layers of identity."

Immediately after taking office in May, Mr Khan tangled with Mr Trump over his proposed ban on allowing Muslim immigrants and refugees into America, deriding his plan as "ignorant".

Mr Khan also appeared to back Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, pegging her as a "left centre" politician similar to himself.

"I'm a big fan of Hillary Clinton," he said, "She's arguably the most experienced candidate to run to be president," Mr Khan told reporters following a speech to more than 250 academics, diplomats and business people.

"As the father of two daughters, I think the message it sends when the most powerful politician in the world is a woman is phenomenal, and hope she wins," said Mr Khan, who as mayor of London is arguably one the most influential members of his faith in western Europe.

Mr Khan, who is of Pakistani descent and became the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital when he was elected in May, arrived in Chicago to begin a United States trip promoting trade ties.

Mr Trump at one point called for a ban on Muslim immigration into the US. The candidate has since modified his stance to urge an immigration ban from countries with "a proven history of terrorism" and for "extreme vetting" of immigrants.

Mr Khan's North America trip began in Canada earlier on Thursday in a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In Chicago, he planned to visit a technology incubator hub and stress opportunities for Chicago companies to establish European headquarters in London.

He is joined on his trip by a delegation of British tech industry executives, as they attempt to mitigate future economic impacts from Britain's 'Brexit' vote to leave the European Union.

Mr Khan's five-day trip will also take him to New York, where he plans to visit a housing project and to meet with Mr Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, to discuss bringing the American sport to London.