Multiple Muslim groups rebuked Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an amicus curiae brief supporting Jewish parents suing Cuomo over restrictions targeting religious schools in Orthodox Jewish communities.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council, Religious Freedom Institute’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team, and Asma Uddin wrote a brief that supported a complaint that was filed Oct. 16, and that alleges Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio discriminated against Jews by prohibiting in-person instruction at Jewish schools throughout the city.
The brief described historical accounts of “scapegoating” religious minorities in times of “sickness, war, and fear.” The Muslim groups cite the discrimination of numerous religions throughout history, including Muslims after 9/11 and Jews during the Black Death, as examples, and added that Cuomo’s actions resemble past instances of scapegoating. (RELATED: Hundreds In NYC Orthodox New York Community Protest New Coronavirus Mandates)
“Latest in a long and troubling line of such incidents are the statements and policies of Governor Cuomo blaming Orthodox Jewish communities for the spread of COVID-19 and specifically targeting them for closures and restrictions, all despite a dearth of evidence,” the brief says.
In early October, Cuomo was allowed by a federal judge to enact new restrictions on gatherings at synagogues and at other houses of worship, after arguments that Cuomo was targeting religious minorities with the order. He said that it was “the last thing I want to do” and that the move was “right on the line of government intrusion on religion,” according to the New York Times.
The measures limit the size of religious gatherings in coronavirus hot spots to 10 people, according to CBS New York.
But many in the Jewish community believed it was clear that Cuomo was targeting Jews when he used a photo from 2006 during a news conference, while claiming that religious institutions were causing problems by not following guidelines, according to CBN News.
Cuomo has said he has “respect and love” for the Orthodox Jewish community, and that “the majority of Ultra Orthodox groups I’ve spoken with have been cooperative,” according to CBS New York.
“There’s a relatively small number that’s uncooperative, and just believe they should be exempt from these government operations.”
De Blasio has also targeted the Jewish community in tweets. “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities is this simple. The time for warnings have passed,” a tweet from April said.
My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 29, 2020
But the Muslim groups supporting the plaintiffs in the case find the casting of Orthodox Jews as religious bigotry.
“The Governor’s orders impose restrictions on schools in predominantly Jewish communities harsher than those on schools outside those communities, despite his frank acknowledgment that schools pose little risk of COVID spread,” the brief says.
“As an initial matter, New York government officials have shuttered schools in predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, identified as COVID hot spots. But they have failed to impose similar restrictions on COVID hot spots that lack such Jewish populations.”