London’s first Muslim Mayor has been paying a visit to Chicago’s Jewish Mayor this week, as he sought to reassure Americans that the British capital is open for business after the European Union referendum vote.
Sadiq Khan, who took up office in City Hall in May, met Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel who signed a technology deal with the London Mayor.
‘One of the reasons I’m here is to reassure friends in America, businesses, students, tourists, innovators, investors that London is open,’ Mr Khan said.
While London is open, Chicago is a city in crisis – racked with debt, unemployment and known as America’s murder capital.
Chicago, in Illinois, is the third largest city in the USA, but it has a high rate of unemployment, crime and ranks highly for political corruptness.
The Democrat party has controlled City Hall for 90 years, and has incurred a £15 billion ($20 billion) bill in pensions payments thanks to generous schemes with unions, according to The Week.
Chicago has a 6.6 per cent rate of unemployment, the highest in any metropolitan area in the USA with more than one million residents.
In London, the unemployment rate is currently 7.5 per cent, higher than the national average.
Chicago also has high crime rates. In the year to date nearly 500 people have been shot and killed in the city, and 2,596 have been shot and injured.
The former police chief of the city said the rate of convictions is low because of a ‘no snitch’ mantra on the streets.
Comparatively, there were 118 murders in London in 2015.
Police also face scrutiny for their handling of gun crime and gang violence. A long suppressed video from 2014 showed a white officer shooting a black teenager who was armed with a knife 16 times, with 14 of those bullets fired as the teen laid on the ground.
The Mayor of London tweeted during his visit to the Illinois city, and made comparisons between it and the British capital. He said the riverside walk could be inspiration for a project in Barking, and pledged he would work with Chicago, as leaders should build bridges not walls.
Mr Khan said during his visit to Chicago that London is demanding a seat at the table when the British government begins formally negotiating its exit from the EU, and will ensure the deal is a ‘good one.’
London’s first Muslim mayor, the son of a bus driver, came with another message for America, telling reporters that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was playing ‘into the hands of extremists’ with his hostile rhetoric toward Muslims.
But Mr Khan and his delegation of London-based entrepreneurs were primarily focused on trying to ease concerns over a British exit from the EU during their five-day trip to Montreal, Chicago and New York. Uncertainty over whether Britain will continue to have access to the EU’s single, market has left financial experts worried about a big hit to the country’s business sector.
Mr Emanuel signed a technology-partnership agreement with Mr Khan on Friday and said he wouldn’t have done so if he had doubts about London’s future status as a global city.
The two men took a boat tour of the Chicago River, cruising past skyscrapers including one bearing Mr Trump’s name in 20-foot tall letters.
Mr Emanuel showed off the city’s new Riverwalk, a pedestrian and recreational path lined with cafes and businesses. They dropped in on a discussion about entrepreneurship at a Chicago tech hub known as 1871.
Mr Emanuel, who is Jewish, also planned to take Mr Khan to his synagogue.
‘You have in Chicago a mayor of Jewish faith,’ Mr Khan said. ‘We have in London a mayor of Islamic faith. I think that message – our friendship – is a message that is bigger than the Brexit vote.’
On Thursday, Mr Khan delivered a speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on the importance of social integration in diverse cities, saying a failure to do so makes it easier for ‘terrorists to radicalize our young people.’ Afterwards, he told reporters that Mr Trump plays to extremists.
‘We shouldn’t inadvertently play into the hands of extremists who say it’s not possible to be somebody who is a mainstream Muslim and hold Western liberal values,’ Mr Khan said. During his five day trip across the Atlantic, Mr Khan will also visit New York and Montreal.