Liu makes inroads with Muslim voters, but it’s not much of a contest

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In its group profile of the 2013 mayoral candidates, the Times noted of John Liu: "By visiting a mosque every Friday, he has made unexpected inroads with the city’s long-neglected Muslims."

Liu has actually been courting Muslim voters for some time. 

He was the first mayoral candidate to speak at last month's launch of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, the first club of its kind here.

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At that launch event, Liu said that he unequivocally opposed a New York Police Department anti-terrorism surveillance program which focused on Muslims groups and individuals.

"We have ongoing issues of surveillance of people just because of their religious faith," said Liu, who is also the only Democratic candidate to call for a complete end to the department's stop-and-frisk program. "That's not right and we should put an end to that." Liu also spoke about the need to have Muslim holidays recognized by New York City public schools, which the current administration has resisted. (The only other mayoral candidate who attended the launch of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York was Sal Albanese, who did not address the issue of NYPD surveillance.)

The surveillance program was described in detail by the Associated Press, in a series of articles starting in September 2011. The series lasted for months and won a Pulitzer Prize last year. The NYPD strongly objected to the AP's characterization and description of the program.

As the stories came out, Liu's rivals in the Democratic primary had a more muted reaction.

Former city comptroller Bill Thompson said the NYPD surveillance program "raises questions of fairness and equal justice."

Quinn, through a spokesperson, said, "it is difficult to judge police techniques without knowing the specifics of the case."

The Wall Street Journal ran a headline in February that said: "Speaker Quinn Voices Support for NYPD Monitoring of Muslims." 

When I asked Quinn about it in October, she talked about the need to "balance" security and privacy concerns.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said he doesn't see any illegality in what the NYPD has done.