He’s the youngest candidate in the running for Ward 3. He’s also been getting the most press lately, though not for the best reasons.
Mohamed Salih, 28, says he’s been the target of racist remarks since he began his candidacy – remarks that flooded when it appeared he would win a seat at the end of this election.
“I knew this stuff was going on for a while, and I didn’t want to make a big issue out of it, because I didn’t want it to overshadow my campaign,” he said. “The line was crossed when they went above and beyond and started harassing and bullying my supporters.”
Salih told Metro London pieces of fried chicken and watermelon were placed in front of his campaign signs and that there were rumours challenging his citizenship.
Aside from this, Salih hadn’t come across any difficulties.
“It’s mainly with the race, the religion, having a name like Mohamed – those challenges really,” he said. “It was mainly the fact that it was being perpetuated by other candidates, which made it more of a challenge to overcome.”
He’s managed to stay positive.
“I knew this was going to happen,” Salih said. “The fact that there’s so many young people who are really following and [are] interested in my campaign … I know there’s a lot of little kids out there … they’re inspired and that keeps me going.”
The response to the racism was of resounding support for the young politician.
“Londoners really rallied behind me and have shown a lot of support,” he said. “All that support from all those corners really helps.”
“I’m not upset about anything to be honest. I’m disappointed, but it’s not the end of the world for me.”
However, the fact that racism still persists today shocked Cheriss Marson, Fanshawe Student Union VP Internal.
“I don’t think it’s necessary, and it’s frustrating,” she said. “It’s just something else someone has to deal with on top of all the pressures of running for the position that he is.”
VP Anthony Sawyers was saddened by the remarks Salih faced.
“That shouldn’t happen,” he said. “These are grown men that are running for city positions. There are black people in London, so how are you going to represent these people if you’re prejudice [against] them?”
Both Cheriss and Sawyers are visible minorities, but they never encountered obstacles like this while they ran for their respective positions in the FSU.
Sawyers says he would keep his chin up, if he were in Salih’s shoes.
“You can really let it get under your skin – if you let it,” he said. “I would just keep on going [and] remind myself that it’s not a negative thing that I’m black.”
Salih only has words of encouragement for young people of colour who may one day run for municipal elections.
“It’s very, very important that we do get involved,” he said. “We need different perspectives.”
“It’s important to bring all kind of different flavours together because it speaks to what Canada looks like. Almost 20 per cent are a visible minority and [political] representation is nowhere near that.”
On September 23 a crowd of 25 – many of them candidates in other wards – rallied behind Salih and headed into the neighbourhood to canvass for him.