London Mayor Sadiq Khan has told The Times that he has been placed under 24-hour police protection after being subjected to violent abuse on social media.
According to Khan, it ranged from “name calling and trolling” to actual threats of terrorism.
"It can't be right that one of the consequences of me being the mayor of London and a Muslim in public life is that I have police protection,” fumed Khan.
While admitting he had been the victim of racial abuse as a child, he added it had since “evolved” into a “torrent of Islamophobic abuse”.
"It starts with name-calling, it can lead to criminal damage and graffiti (and) ultimately to the situation where Jo Cox is murdered or a terrorist can come to London and try to divide communities," said Khan.
The Times said some of the threats the mayor receives are so disturbing that his staff are provided with counselling to help them deal with it.
According to the paper, City Hall referred 17 cases to the police in a three-month period last year and 237 threats were made on social media.
Earlier this year, Sadiq Khan provoked a backlash among teachers by claiming that the rise in school exclusions (suspensions and expulsions) is behind the recent surge in knife crime.
The London mayor co-signed a letter to PM Theresa May calling for an end to rising unofficial exclusions, known as off-rolling, drawing on evidence that excluded children were at greater risk of becoming perpetrators or victims of youth violence.
In a radio appearance at the start of the year, Khan spoke about a fragmented education system in which local authorities have little authority over academies and free schools.
“More and more young people – vulnerable children – are excluded and not looked after,” he said. “When you look at prison inspectorate reports – nine out of 10 young people in custody have been excluded.”
Figures show permanent exclusions (expulsions) in England increased by 56% between 2013-14 and 2016-17, with an inquiry, led by former children’s minister Edward Timpson, demanding head teachers continue to be responsible for pupils even when they have been expelled, the Telegraph reported earlier in the year.
The former Tooting MP also claimed that levels of abuse across the UK have risen since the 2016 Brexit referendum, refraining however, from placing the blame for this at the door of Leavers.
“The referendum campaign allowed things to come to the surface and normalised things that should not be normalised.”
“People have got the impression, wrongly, that it's OK to use the p-word or the n-word or the y-word when it comes to Asians, black or Jewish people,” said the mayor.
The London mayor maintained that mainstream politicians have contributed to the problem, in a nod to Boris Johnson’s comments targeting the burka and saying it “gives permission to people who are on the fringes”.
Sadiq Khan defeated Zac Goldsmith to succeed Boris Johnson as London mayor in 2016.
Three years after assuming the position, Khan says he's looking to tackle issues beyond Brexit – one of his goals has been to build the highest number of new council homes (project housing) in London since 1985.