Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker and one of the leading Democratic candidates for mayor, walked into a clubhouse in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, just as people had started to eat and was escorted straight to the buffet.
“I’d like to say I planned it,” Ms. Quinn joked.
She grabbed a plate, sat down, set aside her fork and picked up one of the stuffed vine leaves sitting on her plate.
The event at Dyker Beach Golf Course was an iftar, a meal to break the daylong fast during Ramadan, hosted by local Muslim Americans. For Ms. Quinn and several other candidates who attended, it was just another stop on a busy campaign trail. But for the Muslim community, it represented an opportunity to make its voice heard and build bridges with key government figures.
Among those present was John C. Liu, the New York City comptroller who is also a Democratic mayoral candidate; he arrived shortly after Ms. Quinn and settled on the other side of the room. Sal F. Albanese, another Democratic candidate, had come and gone. State Senator Eric Adams, a Democrat who is running for Brooklyn borough president, sat in a corner of the room. And a group of Brooklyn police officers occupied a table next to Ms. Quinn’s.
“I don’t remember, ever before, the Muslim community having this kind of a presence in a citywide election” Ms. Quinn said.
Her observation struck a chord.
Naji Almontaser, an American citizen born in Yemen, sat across the table from Ms. Quinn and said that reports about police surveillance of mosques and other Muslim institutions had agitated the community and driven more people to speak out over the last two years.
The community was already aggrieved, he said, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg vetoed a Council recommendation to add two Muslim holidays to the school calendar.
In an appeal for support, Ms. Quinn said she would close schools for those holidays.
“So if you get elected, we can count on that?” Mr. Almontaser asked.
“Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.” she responded.
Mr. Liu, who has repeatedly visited Muslim groups, followed.
“Assalamu Alaikum,” he said, offering the customary Arabic greeting. “With a lot of hard work, inshallah, we will win this election and we will change this city.”
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