Internal emails obtained by Judicial Watch suggest a number of top deputies in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office "went to great lengths" to help the developers of the proposed Ground Zero mosque, including drafting a letter addressed to the community board on their behalf. The New York Daily News reports:
A flurry of emails released by City Hall yesterday revealed the coaching Hizzoner's brass gave to the imam pushing to build the mosque, Feisal Abdul Rauf.
At one point, Community Affairs Commissioner Nazli Parvizi even drafted a letter for Rauf's wife, Daisy Khan, to send to Community Board 1, which was voting on the project.
"As a Muslim-American and a New Yorker, I take my role in keeping New York the greatest City in the world serious," the draft said. Parvizi also provided the contact information for the board.
Another email shows that Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Fatima Shama expedited a temporary public assembly permit for the group to conduct prayers in January at the site, known as 51 Park.
In addition, Fox News notes that in January, the group asked the mayor's commissioner of immigrant affairs, Fatima Shama, for help in acquiring an additional permit to hold worship services at the proposed site. A few hours later, the mayor's office responded that the problem had been fixed. Khan also reached out to Shama in May asking for "guidance on how to tackle the opposition" as the public's anger over the proposed mosque began to grow.
A spokesman for the mayor's office said the it is the responsibility of the city to extend such help to religious groups. "It is nothing out of the ordinary. This is what the Community Affairs Unit does," the spokesman told the Wall Street Journal, citing assistance the mayor's office previously gave Catholic officials in drafting a letter to community boards about a papal visit.
But Judicial Watch says the uncovered emails demonstrate the city government went too far with its assistance. "The mayor's office was at the beck and call of the ground zero mosque folks," Fitton said. "He obviously feels strongly about it, but he shouldn't turn the taxpayers of New York into advocates for this group."