Cruz urges DOJ ‘to closely monitor New York City’ for religious discrimination amid coronavirus

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called on the Justice Department to “closely monitor New York City” for potential religious discrimination after Mayor Bill de Blasio singled out the Jewish community following a breakup of an Orthodox Jewish funeral.

“The fact that the Mayor made this threat mere days after tweeting in support of a program that would bring ‘hundreds of thousands [of meals] to the 32 sites most frequented by our Muslim communities’ and attending large gatherings with health care workers without protective equipment suggests that the Jewish community is being singled out for special burdens,” Cruz wrote in a letter to Attorney General William Barr, which his office released Thursday.

Last week De Blasio announced New York City would distribute 500,000 halal meals at 32 specific Department of Education sites in areas where there are “large Muslim communities,” during Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims.

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The mayor last week also posed for a photo in front of hundreds of health care workers packed together with no mask on.

“It is especially dangerous to single out the Jewish community in a city that is experiencing a substantial rise in violent antisemitism. The Department of Justice should not hesitate to closely monitor New York City to ensure that the Mayor’s rhetoric does not translate into constitutional violations,” Cruz continued.

"Would DeBlasio have sent this identical tweet with the word “Jewish” replaced by any other religious minority? If not, why not?" Cruz tweeted in response to de Blasio's "message to the Jewish community."

"Laws should be enforced neutrally w/o targeting religious faith," said Cruz.

The New York mayor was accused of singling out the Jewish community after a stern warning he issued after accompanying police to break up a massive crowd at a Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish funeral, photos of which circulated social media.

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“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” de Blasio tweeted Tuesday night. "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."

The mayor’s response drew swift condemnation. While critics did not appear to dispute whether the funeral was a violation of social distancing rules -- which call for staying at least six feet apart and limit large gatherings -- they questioned de Blasio’s language toward the city’s Jewish population over the incident, months after a rash of anti-Semitic attacks in the New York metropolitan area.

De Blasio sparked criticism from Christians last month when he threatened to permanently close religious institutions that held gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

In early April a Catholic group accused de Blasio of being anti-Christian after he questioned whether  the 68-bed field hospital set up in Central Park by Samaritan's Purse, an organization run by Franklin Graham, would treat all patients equally.

The mayor said he found it "very troubling" Samaritan's Purse was setting up the hospital. The organization recruits Christian volunteers, a policy that adheres to its 11-point statement of faith, but says it treats all patients without discretion.

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"I said immediately to my team that we had to find out exactly what was happening," de Blasio said. "Was there going to be an approach that was truly consistent with the values and the laws in New York City, that everyone would be served and served equally?"

Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report. 

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