Mayor Bloomberg yesterday defended his administration’s efforts to solicit support for the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, saying the city doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion.
“If you want to start a religious place of worship, if you want to start a nonprofit . . . our job is to help you, and we will do what we can,” Bloomberg said during his weekly radio show.
“When we say we don’t get involved — we don’t get involved in picking one [side] versus another, but our responsibility is: Anybody that walks in the door that needs help, our job is to help them.”
E-mails released by City Hall on Thursday revealed that city Community Affairs Commissioner Nazli Parvizi had drafted a letter for Daisy Khan, wife of the proposed mosque’s imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, to send to the head of the local community board ahead of its vote on the project.
In one e-mail, Parvizi wrote that she hoped that the letter — which Community Board 1 Chairwoman Julie Menin said she never got — would “get the media attention off of everyone’s backs.”
On the radio yesterday, Bloomberg rejected suggestions that the city’s stance on the controversial project — known as both Cordoba House and Park51 — had been “rigged from the start.”
“They asked for help. When the pope came to town, the Catholic New York Archdiocese asked for help. We did the same thing,” the mayor told WOR-AM host John Gambling.
“We wrote letters for them and figured out who they should go to, ’cause they wanted to tell community boards and other churches . . . that there might be traffic and whatever.”
Bloomberg also noted that the city assisted a group of Orthodox Jews in erecting a sukkah in Bryant Park and likened the efforts to official support of the business community.
“That’s the city’s job. We don’t pick favorites, and if you want to start a business, we’re working very hard to reduce the bureaucracy,” he said. “We cut the time to open a restaurant . . . dramatically.”
Also yesterday, Bloomberg said he had “absolutely no idea” whether the planned mosque might be moved to the shuttered St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Greenwich Village under a plan that, as revealed in Sunday’s Post, was being considered by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
(Source: NY Post)