Several Muslim groups wrote a brief to the court in support of Jewish faith communities and schools in New York City over coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Opponents of the measures say other schools were not similarly prohibited from holding in-person classes during the fall semester.
“A long and troubling line”
As reported by the Daily Caller, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Religious Freedom Institute’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team, and Asma Uddin wrote the amicus curiae brief to support a complaint filed on Oct. 16 against Cuomo.
The brief included examples of historical discrimination and “scapegoating” of religious minorities in times of “sickness, war, and fear.” Two of the examples given include how Muslims were treated after 9/11 and how Jews were treated during the Black Death.
“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.
A federal judge allowed Cuomo to restrict religious communities, and he gave de Blasio the go-ahead to institute strict lockdowns on 20 virus hotspots in the city soon afterward.
Where the numbers were highest, capacity in houses of worship was limited to 25% of capacity or 10 people maximum. Areas with less severe outbreaks were limited to 50% capacity.
“Government intrusion on religion”
Cuomo even acknowledged at the time of the announcement it was “the last thing” he wanted to do and that the move was “right on the line of government intrusion on religion.”
In April, de Blasio directed tweets at the Orthodox Jewish communities: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities is this simple. The time for warnings have passed.”
Roman Catholic churches in the hotspot areas also objected to the restrictions, saying that two dozen would have to close.
Since early on in the public health crisis, President Donald Trump has prioritized the reopening of churches across the nation.
“Governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now — for this weekend,” Trump said in May.