New York’s governor is hiring her first Muslim Affairs director

NEW YORK (RNS) — New York Governor Kathy Hochul is on the lookout for her first director of Muslim Affairs in an effort to foster optimistic relationships between the governor’s workplace and the state’s Muslim inhabitants.

The initiative is the newest effort of Governor Hochul to strengthen ties with the estimated 725,000 Muslims residing in New York, after denouncing the rise in Islamophobia following the Oct. 7 Hamas assaults and after assembly with Muslim religion leaders, wrote Avi Small, Hochul’s press secretary, in an e-mail assertion.

“Governor Hochul is dedicated to constructing a various administration, and we’re all the time on the lookout for methods to develop and enhance our outreach to communities throughout New York,” he wrote.

The director will act as a liaison between the governor’s workplace and the state’s Muslim inhabitants, advising the governor on the issues and wishes of the group and speaking to Muslim residents how the administration’s insurance policies will have an effect on them.

The governor’s workplace already counts a director of Jewish Affairs and a director of Asian American Affairs amongst its efforts to strengthen its relationship with its numerous group members.

The profitable candidate, according to the job description posted March 25, needs to be “well-versed on the problems impacting the Muslim American group” and have already got relationships with group leaders and religion leaders.

For the reason that starting of the Israel-Hamas battle, Governor Hochul’s relationship with the Muslim group have been strained as she has vocally supported Israel’s ongoing navy operations within the Gaza Strip, which have killed greater than 30,000 Palestinians and precipitated a humanitarian disaster.

Proper after Hamas killed an estimated 1,200 Israelis and took greater than 200 hostages on Oct. 7, Hochul went on a two-day “solidarity journey” to Israel. She visited a kibbutz that had been attacked by Hamas militants, in addition to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

On Oct. 16, she signed a letter, alongside 16 different governors, condemning the Hamas assault and “in assist of Israel in its efforts to safe the protected return of hostages and make sure the ongoing security of its folks.” The letter additionally known as for President Biden to ship navy assist to Israel.

Within the weeks following the assault, Hochul met with quite a few Jewish group leaders to precise her assist to the group and commanded that flags on each state’s constructing be flown at half mast to commemorate the victims of Oct. 7. She additionally attended quite a few vigils and rallies demanding the discharge of the hostages.

In response to a surge in each Islamophobia and antisemitism amid the battle, she introduced the creation of a $25 million grant to fight hate crimes and make sure the safety of homes of worship. She additionally prompted a evaluate of the Metropolis College of New York’s practices to combat antisemitism and make sure the security of Jewish college students and school on campus.

However some Muslim New Yorkers have criticized her response to their group’s wants amid the battle.

Throughout a press convention held on Oct. 12, Governor Hochul known as “law-abiding Palestinians to reject Hamas,” in response to a reporter who requested her what her message was to Palestinian New Yorkers who had been fearing for his or her kin in Gaza. She then added that “Israel has a proper to defend itself,” and Hamas was guilty for the scenario in Gaza.

Throughout a philanthropy occasion for the United Jewish Attraction Federation held in New York in February, the governor implied that Israel had a proper to destroy Gaza. She later apologized for her comment, calling it a “poor alternative of phrases” and saying that “Palestinian civilian casualties needs to be averted and that extra humanitarian support should go to the folks of Gaza.”

On Feb. 26, she visited the Islamic Heart of Melville, after a person burst into the mosque and yelled that the hostages held by Hamas needs to be launched. She condemned the incident and reaffirmed her dedication to combat “Islamophobia, antisemitism, racism and homophobia.”

However numerous members of the Muslim group, together with political figures, haven’t been glad along with her apologies or what they see as a tepid response to the issues of Palestinian New Yorkers.

New York Metropolis council member Shahana Hanif reacted to Hochul’s apologies on X, writing, “I have to see modified conduct. I can’t be forgiving you presently.”

Hanif declined to remark for this text.

Husein Yatabarry, govt director of the Muslim Neighborhood Community, welcomed the announcement of a director of Muslim Affairs, noting the appointment needs to be not solely a symbolic gesture but additionally lead to substantive modifications for the state’s Muslim group. 

“We see this place as a cornerstone for actual inclusion, designed to raise our voices and combine our views into the state’s policy-making efforts,” wrote Yatabarry in an e-mail assertion.

He stated the initiative additionally comes at a vital second because the group has felt sidelined by the governor for the reason that starting of the battle. 

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