NEW YORK: New York’s mayor spreads controversy after he broke up the crowds gathering for a rabbi’s funeral and threatened arrests by the law enforcement agencies, a lot of religious leaders accusing him of unfairly targeting the Jewish community.
Thousands of Orthodox Hasidic Jews, according to the mayor’s official estimate, lined streets in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn on the evening of the Tuesday to pay their respects to the deceased rabbi 73-year-old Chaim Mertz, who died from COVID-19.
Mayor Bill de Blasio took his canon and aimed on to the Twitter to describe how he had personally forced the mourners to disperse, saying there was “zero tolerance” for large events while the city fights coronavirus pandemic severly.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” he wrote on his tweet by his Twitter handle.
“I have instructed the NYPD ( New York Police Department ) to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease, halt the spread and saving lives. Period.”
De Blasio was slammed for specifically mentioning the Jewish community in his tweet and for appearing to lump all worshippers of the diverse faith together when it was only some members of one sect in attendance.
“I saw the troubling photos from the funeral, but singling out the entire Jewish community for possible arrest sends a shiver down our collective spine,” tweeted Ted Deutch, chairman of the House of Representatives ethics committee.
“Mr. Mayor, when you’ve got a message for ‘all communities,’we Jews are covered,” he added further.
Prominent Republican senator Ted Cruz tweeted on Twitter: “Laws should be enforced neutrally without targeting religious faith.” De Blasio on Wednesday said he apologized if his choice of words had offended anyone from any community or religious clan but doubled down on denouncing the gathering.
“I have no regrets about calling out this danger,” he said, adding that he would deal “very, very aggressively” with social distancing violations because we are fighting against an unseen enemy.