August 29, 2023
Mohammed Bahi, Senior Liaison, Community Affairs Unit: Thank you to everyone for coming to this historic announcement. I want to acknowledge the attendance of Phil Banks, deputy mayor for Public Safety. Edward Caban, NYPD commissioner. Mark Stewart, NYPD deputy commissioner of Community Affairs. Kaz Daughtry, NYPD assistant commissioner. Gilford Monrose, faith advisor, Office of the Mayor. Asim Rehman, commissioner of OATH. Mir Bashar, chief administrative officer. Deputy Inspector Adeel Rana. And Dr. Sarah Sayeed, director of the Civic Engagement Commission. And all of the faith leaders and elected officials that have joined us here today, thank you for coming.
The Adhan, also known as the Islamic call to prayer, is a beautiful and integral part of the Muslim worship and daily life. It serves as a melodious reminder for Muslims to come together and engage in prayer. Its captivating melody has a profound impact on the hearts and minds of those who hear it. Beyond its religious significance, the Adhan carries a sense of tranquility and serenity. It sounds can create a meditative atmosphere, inviting individuals to pause, reflect, and turn their attention towards the divine.
Whether heard in busy streets or in the quiet corners of a serene village, the Adhan has the power to stir the soul and strengthen the bond between the worshiper and their creator. In essence, the Adhan stands as a timeless and cherished tradition, carrying centuries of devotion, faith, and reverence. It embodies the essence of Islam, calling believers to prayer, offering a moment of connection with a divine in the midst of their daily lives. New York City has the power to captivate cultures, faith and traditions, and allow them to flourish under its skies. We cannot be any more grateful to this administration, and to Mayor Eric Adams, for bringing us all here today for this historic announcement and reminding us that our faith is equally important as everyone else's, and giving our children a little taste of back home here in this great city. And now, it is a great honor and pleasure to induce the greatest mayor of the greatest city, Mayor Eric Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. We're also joined by our first deputy commissioner as well. And just really want to thank and I want them to share a few words. Our Borough President of the Borough of Brooklyn, Antonio Reynoso. Antonio represents probably, outside of Queens, probably the second most diverse borough, the largest of course in the City of New York. If it was a city, it would be the third or the fourth-largest city in America. And to Senator Jackson, a person who is of Muslim faith, and I know how significant this moment is for him, and I would love for you also, Senator, to have an opportunity to speak.
Throughout my years in public life, one thing that I took note of throughout this entire journey is how this was not a city for everyone: this was a city that ignored so many cultures and communities, this was a city where certain groups did not have the right to raise their flags down at Bowling Green. The number of people on January 1st, 2022 when I took office, the first year of them calling me and saying, "Is it possible we can also celebrate our independence and our culture by having flag raising?", and over and over again, our team from International Affairs had to give me the note, "This is the first time we've ever done it," over and over again.
The Japanese community, for years, they wanted to parade on the streets like other cultural groups. They had to be told they could only parade in Central Park. That ended when I became mayor. The Haitian community wanted to celebrate their culture and say sak pase on the streets of Manhattan. They were unable to do so. That ended when I became mayor. You will see over and over again the dismantling of a city that talked about diversity, but in reality, it was not diverse. And throughout my childhood, I heard the beautiful melodies of church bells at different times. If it was on the hour or the half an hour, it was a reminder of our spiritual lives. While in the 94 Precinct, bordering the 90 Precinct, I would hear the sirens when we reached the point of the Shabbat observers. And on my campaign trail, Bahi and Ahasn, and many other members of the Muslim community stated that they would like to have the call to prayer.
Something that I heard when I visited Morocco, when I visited Saudi Arabia, when I visited Oman, when I visited Jordan, when I visited so many Arab and Muslim countries, I heard the call of prayer. And I know that it is a significant moment. And to be able to state that this city is going to join a rich tradition, cultural, and faith belief to allow all groups to be acknowledged. You will not live in the shadows of the American dream while I'm the mayor of the City of New York. This is a promise I made on the campaign trail, and with lists of so many other promises, this is a promise kept. So, to my Muslim brothers and sisters that are here, as-salamu alaykum
Audience: Wa-alaykum salam.
Mayor Adams: And so, I want to thank you, Bahi. Your commitment, everything from bringing in the Diwali holiday, to having food in our school system, to creating a place for prayer inside City Hall. This is such a great moment that we are no longer talking about it: we are being about it. And Commissioner Stewart, for what you have done to continue to move forward with this issue, Assistant Commissioner Daughtry, and the entire team over at the New York City Police Department under Commissioner Caban of making sure we can get this right.
New York City, you are free to worship in New York City and we embrace all religions and faiths. Just returning from Israel and seeing the intersectionality of the Jewish quarter, the Christian quarter, the Muslim quarter, and seeing right there, all those religions are in the same place and allowed to worship freely. For too long, there has been confusion about which communities are allowed to amplify their calls to prayer. Today, we are cutting red tape and saying clearly, "If you are a Mosque or a house of worship of any kind, you do not have to apply for a permit to amplify your call to Friday prayer. You are free to live your faith in New York City."
Many of us may know the call to prayer as the Adhan as a chant that is played for one to two minutes on Fridays. But for our Muslim brothers and sisters, it is so much more than that. It is the voice of God, a reminder to take a moment, an invitation to come together and pray. For years, the community has advocated for the right to express this fundamental part of their faith. I'm proud we are finally getting it done today.
Our Muslim community is the key to the prosperity and culture of our city, and the diversity is just so evident. When you look around the full scope, just like the Christian faith and the Jewish faith and other faiths is diverse, so too is the Muslim community. And we are committed to giving you the recognition you deserve. That's why again and again, you are hearing about the first. Over and over again, you're hearing the words, "This is the first time, this is the first time, this is the first time." Add this onto, "This is the first time," and you're going to hear more first times again.
Look at what we've done: the first ever Eid celebration at Gracie Mansion, the first Bangladeshi heritage celebration. And just last week, the first Arab heritage event. We supported and funded the first citywide halal food program for students in our schools. We introduced Breaking Bread, Building Bonds. Lamona Knight, Assistant Commissioner Knight, and the team over at CAU under Fred Kreizman, bringing people of all different racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds together to share 1,000 meals across the five boroughs. And we have put leaders in place that reflect the diversity of this community, including a Muslim senior advisor of the mayor's… And the first Muslim executive director of the Mayor's Office for Prevention of Hate Crimes. Last week I visited Jerusalem as I stated, and I saw the power of that diversity alive and well.
Each major religion is able to celebrate on a different day of the week. You hear the Adhan on Fridays, the Jewish community goes to temple on Saturday, and hear the Christian church bells rings on Sunday. I have had the opportunity to pray at some of the holiest sites in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It has inspired me, it has lifted me up, it has allowed me to understand the challenges that are in front of us, but our destiny is larger than our individuality, and we can come together with faith. I have never made it unclear to anyone that I'm a man of God and I believe in faith and I will take that faith with me everywhere I go. And we are a country of faith, and that's clear on our dollar bill, "In God we trust."
And so, we're going to show the world how we come together with all of our faith leaders. And under the law, we are all treated equally. That's why I want to be very clear: we are not changing the rules to benefit anyone or any one group. New Yorkers should know, the volume must be kept to a reasonable level, and it can be played between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. each Friday, and during sunset prayers through the holy month of Ramadan. In a few minutes, we will hear what the call to worship sounds like, probably the first time that call to worship has ever been put in place here in city hall. If you are part of a Mosque or other religious community, you can contact the Mayor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnership to learn more. Clarity is important, and again, I want to thank the commissioner and his entire team, which is working with us to ensure that New Yorkers' rights to worship are protected, and that includes our Mosques across New York City. They will know the rules and know how to participate in them correctly.
We also want to recognize all the Muslims and community leaders who are here with us today. This is a very important and significant moment for them, and I know how important it is, and I want to thank them for helping us continue to unite our city during these difficult times. Many of these Mosques and leaders have played such a significant role in how do we deal with everything from violence, to the asylum seekers, to just every day addressing the mental health crisis that we are facing in our city and in our nation. I want to thank them for what they do as they join with Pastor Monrose and many of the other faith leaders that have played such a crucial role in moving the city forward. So again, thank you so much. This is a proud and significant moment for all of us. Let's continue to uplift each other. Now, I will leave you in the same manner that I greeted you, as-salamu alaykum
Audience: Wa-alaykum salam.
Bahi: Thank you, brother. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. And I would like to introduce now the NYPD Police Commissioner Edward Caban.
Police Commissioner Edward Caban: Thank you, Bahi, thank you, Mr. Mayor, and thank you all for joining us today. As we all know, less than a mile from here, our nation came to life. Our first capital is here, our first president was sworn in here, and more than 230 years ago, the laws of this new nation, one nation indeed under God, guaranteed freedom of religion for all. But that freedom is an ideal, those laws do not explain how to achieve it. The contours of that freedom must be shaped by those governed by the law. And today, we are doing just that. Today, we are here to lend our support to all religions of our city, to let our houses of worship know they may carry out their customs, particularly as it relates to amplified sound without the need for a sound permit. But today is about so much more than that.
Today, we affirm that we do not merely tolerate freedom of religion in our city, we celebrate it. We embrace our civic virtue and the strength of our differences. We see this in the NYPD every day: we are a department with tremendous diversity including religion, and yet we are united in purpose, a purpose that demands we uphold the rights of every New Yorker. So today, using our strong partnerships in the Community Affairs Bureau, we commit to helping all religions worship in a reasonable manner, and we do this with a renewed focus on the importance of relationships: relationships between faith leaders, community stakeholders, and residents alike. I want to thank Deputy Commissioner Mark Stewart and the entire Community Affairs Bureau for all of their hard work. This is an important initiative, one that demands fairness for all. I am proud of all the NYPD is doing to achieve that balance. Thank you very much.
Bahi: Thank you, Commissioner Caban. And our next speaker I would like to introduce is Deputy Inspector Adeel Rana, President of the Muslim Officers Society.
Deputy Inspector Adeel Rana, Police Department: As-salamu alaykum. First, I would like to thank our great mayor, Mayor Eric Adams, for not only the occasion that we are here for, but all the things that he has accomplished in such a short time for all New Yorkers. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Some of those accomplishments are the appointment of the first Muslim senior advisor to a New York City mayor. Then, having a commissioner who is well qualified to lead the administrative court, the appointment of chief administrative officer, and many more in his team that are also Muslim. And I cannot forget, appointing the best person to lead the greatest police department in the world, Commissioner Edward Caban.
As everyone knows, Adhan is called to prayer, prayer that is one of the fundamental parts of Islam. You all might have heard the call to prayer when you traveled in various countries or when you're watching movies or shows. It is a beautiful, soothing sound that reminds you about your obligation to the creator. So, you know how important it is to the Muslim community.
For over 40 years, some of the Masjids have been offering the call to prayer without any issues or frictions. But today, Mr. Mayor, his actions are going to make it smoother and painless for everyone else. And recently, we had a Muslim officer, Adeed Fayaz, that was killed. During his funeral, a local Masjid, which is a mosque, conducted a call to prayer on a loudspeaker. In return, that Masjid has been playing the call to prayer on their speaker since then. This showed you how important it is and how much the community wants it, needs it, and appreciates it.
To my fellow Muslim community, my brothers and sisters, as we embark in the new journey, please remember that in Islam, you have to be kind, understanding, and helpful to your neighbor. So, when you are installing the speaker or when you are offering the call to prayer, please be mindful of your neighbors, please have the open conversation, that relationship with your fellow neighbors. As my fellow New Yorkers, I want to thank you in advance for your understanding, for your openness, and for ensuring that every religion in New York City has a right to worship as they please.
I encourage you to reach out to your fellow neighbor, your fellow Masjid, and to learn about the culture of prayer and have that dialogue and relationship that will better serve your community. The NYPD Muslim Officers Society is always in the forefront when it comes to serving the community, connecting our law enforcement and our community: we will always be here. I encourage our community to reach out to any one of us if they ever need any assistance. This is the best city in the greatest police department, and we get a chance to serve, connect, and work along with the Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Hindu, and all other religious officers. Thank you, Mr. Bahi, and all the other people that put this together. Thank you to our leaders that are standing here and those that could not make it. Thank you again to Mr. Mayor, the police commissioner, and of course, thank you to our New Yorkers. This is another great example where working together, we can get stuff done. God bless New York City and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.
Bahi: Thank you. And I would like to introduce now Imam Al-Hajj Dr. Talib Abdur-Rashid.
Imam Al-Hajj Dr. Talib Abdur-Rashid: Good morning. Peace be unto you all. As-salamu alaykum. I'm here this morning in my capacity as the Chairman of the Association of African-American Imams, and as a special representative of the Majlis Ash-Shura, which is the Islamic Leadership Council of New York. 33 years ago, the City of New York was wracked with gun violence throughout the five boroughs, racial and ethnic strife. And into that challenge stepped our first and now previous African-American mayor, Mayor David Dinkins. And Mayor David Dinkins issued a call to the citizens of New York to celebrate what he called the gorgeous mosaic of ethnicities, faith, traditions, and languages.
And the interfaith community here in New York embraced and answered and responded to Mayor Dinkins' call. And this served for a time as a healing balm to our city, and I might add, help to sustain us during the difficult years that followed the Dinkins administration. So here we are now, three decades later, and the country itself is wracked by gun violence, by strife between ethnic groups, and there is a need for a call and an example from an elected official of the great city of New York to call us forth once again to unity, inclusion, and diversity as a city, that the city might be healed. So, we of the Muslim community, we are here to support the spirit and the leadership of Mayor Eric Adams.
It has always amazed me as someone who's lived in New York since I was a small child that people push back against Mayor Adams as a result of his open embrace of faith communities. It's amazing when one considers that the largest Catholic community in America is in New York City, the largest Jewish community in America is in New York City, and the largest Muslim community in America is in New York City. So, it's not only a matter of good spirit, it's a matter of our Mayor's good politics and we salute him for that. And lastly, lastly, over the past 30 years since the mayoralty of Mayor Dinkins, there have been moments when the religious and spiritual life of New York City has taken a breath and expanded to include Muslims.
It took a breath 30 years ago and added the two major Muslim holy days or sacred days to the New York City Transportation, Mr. Mayor, calendar. It took a breath when Muslim inmates in the New York City Department of Corrections were granted the right to have halal food on a regular basis, the only jail system in America that enjoys that type of accommodation. It took a breath when the entire city was traumatized by the events of 9/11, and religious leaders of various faiths responded with prayer and standing together and love and compassion to heal our city. And so we stand now in this crucial time with our mayor, the mayor of all of the people of the city of New York, and we counsel everyone to patience.
Every time there's a development, there's always a little tension. In fact, the only time there's been an expansion where there was no tension was when the number of days for alternate side parking were implemented. We never got any negative feedback about that, but we stand with our mayor. We counsel the Muslim community and our neighbors, of all facing this great and diverse city to continue to move forward, continue to grow, continue to evolve. Because it is our belief that by doing so, that we add to the safety and security of our city and the future of our children, our grandchildren, and the future generations. Thank you so kindly. As-salamu alaykum
Bahi: And I would like to introduce the next speaker, Taher Abdelhadi, Executive Director of MAS New York.
Taher Abdelhadi, Executive Director, MAS NY: As-salamu alaykum. In the name of Allah, the most gracious and most merciful. First and foremost, we thank [speaks in Arabic] God for all of His blessings and mercy upon us. We thank Mayor Eric Adams, this administration, Commissioner Caban, and all of the Muslim leaders that have stood the past few decades at times of turbulence for Muslim communities and at times like these, when Muslim communities and communities of faith are celebrated. There was a lot of beautiful points that were shared, and I just want to supplement them with a few words.
First and foremost, there could, of course, be some worry from our neighbors in the New York community that events are now going to suddenly start blasting. We want to reiterate that it is an integral part of our faith to be kind and courteous to our neighbors. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, "One whose neighbors are not safe from your harm is not from us," meaning he is not a believer. Conversely and opposite of that, Muslims are pushed and it is incumbent upon them to be a positive force in society. So when we talk about it then as being a call to prayer, it's also a renewal of faith. And with that faith, it is not just prayer and fasting.
A Muslim's faith must manifest in all of their interactions in life, in their honesty, in their integrity, in their support of Muslims and of people of all faiths. And I want you all to understand that our masajid in New York City provide many services for people of all faiths. They have food pantries. They are places for emotional and spiritual support for anybody to walk in. During the Iftars of Ramadan, it's not just Muslims walking in. Anybody can walk in and have a meal with Muslims and enjoy some social interaction. And with this celebration of the Muslim community and of people of all faiths, it's important to also have expectations, expectations on ourselves as religious groups within society, and as Mayor Eric Adams has many times reminded us, the importance of the role of faith groups within society.
We talk about crime. We talk about substance abuse issues in society, mental health issues. The city can only do so much from the outside. There's 40,000 police officers for millions of people in New York City. If we want to make this city a better place, a healthier place, it must start at a grassroots level, and that is through religious groups. That's through houses of worship that have access to hundreds of people and can give these positive messages and tell them, "Be the leaders of positive change. Fix your families. Improve your marriages. Raise your kids in a better way." And this is some of the messages, of course, that Islam teachers, and 100 percent, Mayor Eric Adams aligns with, faith and family and improving this city from a grassroots level up.
And we really thank the administration. We thank the leaders and we thank all of you for supporting. Again, as Commissioner Caban said, "not just having tolerance." Right? Tolerance is if we have tolerance as the benchmark, come down before it, below it, we're right there at discrimination. Let's have celebrating different faiths and believing that they can be a part of the solution for our great city. Thank you.
Bahi: Thank you, Brother Taher. I would like now to introduce Somaia Ferozi, Principal of the Ideal Islamic School.
Somaia Ferozi, Principal, Ideal Islamic School: Okay, As-salamu alaykum, everyone. First of all, thank you, Mayor Eric Adams, for being a friend to the Muslim community. Thank you for recognizing the importance of Adhan, the call for prayer. In the Muslim community, we are humbled today for this opportunity. As you can see, that then plays a huge significance in the Muslim daily life. Our lives revolve around the daily five prayers. One of the theme in my school, Ideal Islamic School, is we are Muslims 24/7. So, Islam is our life, not simply a religion. My vision for my students is to help them embrace their Islamic identity with confidence.
Our children are reminded of who they are when they hear the adhan. They can embrace their religion with a sense of pride and inclusiveness. Having the adhan echo in their New York City neighborhoods will make them feel part of a community that acknowledges them. This is what we want for our children, to feel wanted, to feel this is home, a home where their religion is accepted, not feared. We are now in 2023. I believe it is time, just as the church bells ring on Sundays, we ask Adhan to echo on Fridays for Juum'ah prayer and in Maghrib, the holy month of Ramadan. Thank you.
Bahi: Thank you, Sister. I would like now to introduce Meesam Razvi, spokesperson for the Al-Khoei Foundation.
Meesam Razvi, Spokesperson, Al-Khoei Foundation: Thank you. As-salamu alaykum. I'd like to begin by congratulating Brother Eric Adams for making this historic and groundbreaking announcement today. Adhan, as it literally means an announcement, is not just a call for prayers. It is also a declaration that a mosque is not a closed space. It's an open space, and it is a sanctuary for everyone, regardless of what religion, creed, ethnicity, race, or orientation that they belong to. It is an open space and everyone is welcome. That's what the announcement is for. Finally, the call for [speaks in Arabic] is going to echo on the streets of New York. Mr. Mayor, we are eternally grateful for you for having made this announcement. May Allah protect New York City and may Allah bless America. [Speaks in Arabic].
Bahi: Thank you. I would like now to introduce Senator Robert Jackson.
New York State Senator Robert Jackson: Mayor Adams, thank you for bringing us all together. It's good to see so many sisters and brothers here. And you may say, "Well, why am I here?" I am here because when I got the text message that there was going to be an announcement that the call for prayer is going to be every Friday afternoon from now and until whenever… I was the first Muslim that was elected to the City Council of New York in January of 2002, and also in the New York State Senate in January of 2019. People have come to me and said, "I didn't know you were Muslim," and I said, "Well, what does a Muslim look like?" And I say to you that are not knowledgeable, a Muslim looks like everyone in this room.
And so this is about respect and understanding and appreciation for one another. Even we have religious leaders coming up to the state Senate and saying a prayer before we begin our deliberations. And I always go up front and introduce myself, not to say I'm the first Muslim in the state Senate, but to say to them, "Hello, how are you? And when you say your prayer, can you say a prayer for peace and understanding throughout the world?" Because all you have to do is turn on the news or listen to the radios and you know that we need prayer, that we need respect, we need understanding. And so I'm here today as part of one to say in unity, there is strength and that we are strong here today. Thank you, mayor.
Bahi: Thank you, Senator. I would like now to introduce Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso: First, I want to just thank Mayor Eric Adams for this great announcement. The Brooklyn Muslim community has been reaching out to me constantly to talk about this issue. And I don't have the support of the NYPD and Caban, and I'm not the mayor of the City of New York, but I was telling them to do it anyway. I told them, "Do it and get the fines and I'll give them to Eric. He'll take care of them." But to hear this announcement happening now, I'm just deeply grateful, because we speak about being proud of our diversity in our city. And people love dancing, music, eating the food, and celebrating all those cultures, but those folks want to celebrate themselves as well. And we can't have them hide while we get to eat great food, allow food and enjoy it, but when it's time for them to pray, that we want to hide or we want to say that that can't happen.
Cultural extraction is way too common in this city, and what we need to do is start appreciating each other and loving each other. So when I talk about faith, I just talk about love. Think about what they're doing in these mosques, masjids. They're just praying for each other, praying for you. In Catholic churches and Christian churches, Baptist churches, in synagogues, just praying for other people. And I believe that when you give the universe love, the universe gives it back. And that's all they're doing is a ball of energy calling on each other through prayer for love.
Now, I have my special assistant. Mayor Adams forgets sometimes that it's Friday and he's supposed to go pray, and now he can't do that anymore. There's no more excuses for [inaudible]. I know you've asked me to make sure he goes. There's no excuses anymore. But this is just me coming from Brooklyn. I don't like to travel on this bridge and come to Manhattan often, but I do. I got to take time to thank our mayor for doing this for the Muslim community, for my community in Brooklyn. I'm deeply grateful for it. And in salah, may we keep this on for forever. Thank you so much.
Bahi: I would like now to introduce Yusef Salaam, member of the Exonerated Five.
Mayor Adams: Welcome to City Council.
Yusef Salaam: First, I would like to say may the peace, mercy, and blessings from the owner of all peace, mercy, and blessings from the owner of all peace, mercy and blessings be upon you. I say that because that's what we say in Arabic and a lot of times the confusion comes when you hear people speaking a different language, but it's about being able to translate in the best way, in the best manner what actually is happening. What I love about the Adhan is that the Adhan was gifted to a person of color to wake up the community that said, "We are those who let go and let God. It is a term that we've heard in our community all throughout because we are an interfaith type of community.
I remember hearing my grandmother say, "Let go and let God," especially when I was going through the awful trials of being vilified as one of the then known Central Park Five. But the best thing about understanding where we are at this particular place in time is that this is sacred time. And in sacred time we get the opportunity to be reminded that we have to at various points in our day, regardless of what we're doing, regardless of what faith we practice, acknowledge God in the best way that we can, and that is by praying to God and what better way than having the announcement proclaimed, "God is the greatest."
And to turn your attention from whatever you're doing back to God so that all of the things that you do afterwards can continue to be works that are blessed, works that are favored. In our prayer, just so that you know, we say [speaks in Arabic], which means “show us the straight path, guide us in the straight path, guide us to the straight way.” What is that path? [Speaks in Arabic.] the way of those that you have blessed. Yes, we know about the history because we can pick it up and read it in a book. We know about the history of those who have been blessed, who have been following the sacred path, but there are people right now who are doing the work.
And so I want to say thank you to our Mayor Adams for being a bright star, not only in the context of who he is for us as a people, but in this great city of ours. And thank you Commissioner Caban for being front and center when it always matters. Thank you. [Speaks in Arabic.]
Bahi: Thank you brother Yusef. And now I would like to introduce Imam Abdullah Salem, Imam of the Muslim Community Center of Brooklyn who will be doing a live chanting of the Adhan in Arabic and who will follow it up with an English translation. Imam Abdullah.
Imam Abdullah Salem: As-salamu alaykum. Peace be upon you all. [Recites Adhan in Arabic.]
Now I'm going to say it in English. God is the greatest, God is the greatest. God is the greatest. God is the greatest. I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except God. I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except God. I bear witness that Muhammad is a messenger of God. I bear witness that Muhammad is a messenger of God. Come to prayer, come to prayer, come to success, come to success. God is the greatest, God is the greatest and no one worthy of worship except God. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: Let go like God… Okay. Okay. We do things in orderly fashion and we're going to get to your question, but you pick the first person that'll be talking.
Question: How are you doing?
Mayor Adams: Good, yourself?
Question: Yeah, pretty good. I was wondering, can you tell us, were there any incidents that precipitated a need for a rule like this? Did anyone get tickets or was it the onerous process of getting a permit? Sort of what was the problem that this is now solved?
Mayor Adams: That's a fantastic question. What I've learned during my time in office as mayor, we have been doing a lot of things and no one can point to the rule. And so when I first inquired, "Why can't we have the call to prayer?" No one had an answer. People said, "Well, we never did before." And so I follow the law, but I make policy. And so I spoke with the police commissioner and the deputy commissioner of Community Affairs and stated, "Let's put the pieces in place to make this happen." And that's what they did. And bring clarity. Clarity is the key.
Question: [Inaudible] that people weren't, they weren't broadcasting the call to prayer because they weren't sure about the…
Mayor Adams: Right. There was no real clarity on if you could, if you couldn't, and the Muslim community wanted to make sure they abide by the law and we brought clarity to it.
Question: Earlier this year, there were a few mosques in Astoria that for the first time played their call of prayer. I know it was a process. I don't know if you or someone from the NYPD wants to speak to what that process and what that, maybe, learning experience was to broaden this, to remove the permitting system to allow more mosques and houses of worship to…
Mayor Adams: No, didn't play into it at all. I talked about this on the campaign trail when I sat down with my Muslims leaders, my imams, when I visited the mosques and masjids, I talked about this over and over again, and so we're just continuing the same pattern of promise made, promise kept.
Question: Good morning, brother.
Mayor Adams: Hey brother, how are you?
Question: Very well. I know that right now Muslim around the world because New York has been followed and that as one of the brother just said, the first person who made announcement was Bilal. I know he's also happy. What we want to know right now is why are you so much about faith and what are you [inaudible] your administration going to do about [inaudible]?
Mayor Adams: Well my brother really pointed it out. You got to let go and let God. There's no way I would have navigated the city out of Covid, crime, 104,000 asylum seekers without one family and child sleeping on the streets, turning back our economy, getting people back on our subway system in a real way, recovering 99 percent of our jobs, getting a AA bond rating by Fitch saying this is a good place to invest. Having 56 million tourists, 65 million predicted to come this year, decrease in shooting and crime. I wake up in the morning and I don't try to guess. I turn on my GPS, God Positioning Satellite. Let go and let God.
Question: Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: Yes sir.
Question: You just came from Jerusalem and you started Breaking Bread, Building Bonds. Is it something that you can expand between Muslims and Jews so that it can translate into peaceful co-existence on the holy land?
Mayor Adams: Well, let's be clear that what Assistant Commissioner Knight and Commissioner Fred Kreizman or Bahi, that whole team has done. I think we have a couple of thousand people who have already attended a Breaking Bread, Building Bonds. We started out with just doing 10 people at one table all coming from a different faith in religion. It has grown. I think the one that we did on Saturday. It was either Saturday or Sunday, we had about 400 people. Last night, there was one in Ozone Park. Hundreds of people are coming and sitting down and reintroducing themselves to their neighbors. Breaking Bread is just a simple way of just bringing people in the room.
I think we underestimate the lubricating value of a meal, how it really takes down our defenses and really allows us to have a real conversation. We want to do a thousand different events and we are on target to doing that. They are doing an amazing job and people are eager. We did one with the Department of Correction officers over the weekend. New York City Police Department held one. Each one of our precinct commanders are going to hold one. Our commissioners are going to hold one. The most challenging aspect of getting it done. We just can't seem to get our reporters to hold one. We want to get all of our news journalists. Maybe we could get Dana and I sit down at the table and break bread and build bond together.
Question: [Inaudible.] It's a historic day for Muslim community, no doubt. But if anyone challenge this decision, how would New York City defend Muslim community?
Mayor Adams: We're doing that every day. There were some painful moments with the relationship with the New York City Police Department and the Muslim community coming out of 9/11. There was just a very difficult period, and I remember when a group of Muslim officers came to me while I was in uniform and they were providing safety for the city, but their daughters and wives because they were wearing a hijab, they were being attacked. And I met with those Muslim officers back then in 2001 and gave them my attorney who started their first organization, organized them into an organization and we had to stand up.
And we see the population, it has increased drastically the entire Muslim presence in the Police Department. I think there's a new day. Commissioner Caban is just well known in the Muslim community and that defense is having a very clear offense that we are not going to tolerate any forms of hate and we're going to continue to do that. It's about everyone living safely in the city and the right to worship in the city.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: How are you? You're going to come to our Breaking Bread, Building Bond?
Question: I absolutely will.
Mayor Adams: Okay.
Question: I wanted to ask, I was reading the city of Minneapolis broadcasts the Adhan five times a day, year round. I know you don't like to be outdone by other cities. I was wondering how did you settle on just Fridays and during Ramadan and was there kind of a conversation of how many…
Mayor Adams: Yes, Bahi sat down and mapped out the exact way. I like to speak to the community and figure it out. That was what Bahi presented during the month of Ramadan. It's going to be at every sunset and during the years going to be during Friday prayer. And I think that there must be a very clear understanding that out of the many towns, villages, and cities across America, New York could never be outdone.
Question: So do you expect by making some part of non-Muslim people may not really like this decision or going to make [inaudible].
Mayor Adams: Well, this is New York, 8.5 million people, 35 million opinions. No matter what you do in New York, there's always going to be the numerical minority that's going to say we should or shouldn't do that. The overwhelming people in this city respect faith and understand the power of faith. And I don't know who stated it, but it was clear. When you are in a masjid, a synagogue, a temple, a church, when you are praying, you're not going out to create harm on someone. The more prayer we have, the greater we are going to be. And I don't care what anyone say, it's time to pray. We're in some challenging times on so many different levels and prayer works. And so those who are going to in any way feel offended, these brothers and sisters from the Muslim community, they're going to invite them in.
People who are offended over the expression of worship. I believe they're in a painful place. And the only way you can heal that painful place of what I say over and over again, we have to move from being worshipers to practitioners. Let's engage in dialogue. Let's go to the community board meetings, the precinct council meetings, and let's invite people in our houses of worship. So yes, there'll be those who will find a reason for us not to do it. And that's okay. We'll be all right. They will get used to the sound and maybe some of them will come in and join in prayer. It's just time to pray.
I should keep y'all all here with me while they ask me these other questions. But thank you so much. Thank you all.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. We leveled very briefly yesterday on the letter from Homeland Security. You mentioned you just had a very quick review of it. Has your staff gotten the full briefing in and dug into some of the concerns that the federal government raised with your response and what do you think of those concerns?
Mayor Adams: Well, I didn't see them as concerns. I saw them that they gave feedback. But let's be clear, and this is just so important to understand. Talking about the downstream approach is not the answer. It's the upstream approach. To say what are we doing with asylum seekers when they're in our city without addressing how do we stop the flow to New York City.
Each time we open a new space, that's not an answer. It's not sustainable. If you're averaging 10,000 people a month and if the national plan is have New York City continue to find new spaces, that is not an answer. If the national plan is that slowly see if New York can move more on the waiting list to get a work authorization, that's not an answer.
We appreciate their observation. We are happy they really engaged in these conversations, but we have not had a lack of clarity. We need people to have the right to work, which is an American tradition. We need a emergency declaration. We need locations to sort of deal with the overflow right now and we need funding.
When you looked at that analysis that was given, it answered none of those prevention. This is an intervention, what you saw. How do we stop this flow?
Question: If I could follow up on your stance and gauge… During the full briefing on the recommendations, as you say yesterday, what explanation did they give as to why they're legally restricted, I believe as they said in the letter, from doing more along the lines of TPS? What answers did they give your staff about why they couldn't go further?
Mayor Adams: They didn't give any clear answers. Look at the low hanging fruit, like an emergency declaration, so we can free up some things here in the city. They gave us a list of spaces. We're going to look at those spaces.
Really doing a decompression strategy at the border is important. I am just really baffled around that very smart people believe that this is sustainable for New York City to continue to get 10,000 people in the city a month. New Yorkers are frustrated and it's spilling over.
If the status quo stays, we're still spending $5 billion. It's like as New Yorkers, we have to ask what are they doing to us? What is it about New York that New York is going through this right now?
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: What's going on, Kelly?
Question: Nothing much. Just a follow up on that question, can you give us more specifics about the 11 sites they had recommended. The governor's office said many of the sites are outside of the city. Can you just give us examples of what sites are? Then also, what were the conversations like? Does it seem like they're more open to helping when it comes to federal relief? Does it seem like they're more open to helping more than just sending assessment teams?
Mayor Adams: Well, we're going to look at all the sites and we're going to give a preview of where the sites are. I want my team to have an opportunity to do so. Then we'll come back and give you a list of all the sites and what's the outcome. If we can use them, we're willing to use them.
But Kelly, I just want, again, lean into the answer to this question is not can we find more places for migrants to fit in New York City and in New York State? That's just not the answer. The answer is how do we stop the flow? If we don't engage in that conversation, then we have a problem.
The beauty here is that you saw the letter, all of you. It's open to everyone. You know the letter. When you read through it, you have to say to yourself, "Okay, how does this solve the problem?" I mean that's the question that we... With the question we're asking, how do we solve a problem?
You didn't see the answer, how to solve the problem. You saw an answer, hey, maybe you guys can move people out faster through the process. Maybe you can do this, maybe you can do that. But how do we solve the problem? That's what we need from the national government.
Question: I just want to follow up. Curtis Sliwa recently held a protest in front of Gracie Mansion, calling on migrants to stay in your backyard. What are your thoughts about that, to be housing migrants?
Mayor Adams: Well, anytime you start out a question with the name Curtis Sliwa, that in itself states that it would do a disservice to me and other New Yorkers for me to even respond. Curtis Sliwa? I mean, you go look in a dictionary for the word buffoon and tell me what picture you come up with.
Question: Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: How's it going?
Question: Good, how are you?
Mayor Adams: Good.
Question: I had a question. I wanted to see if you could talk about your relationship right now as it stands with both President Biden and the White House team and Governor Hochul and her administration. Over the last couple of weeks, they've sent letters, they've been critical about how you and your administration have handled the migrant crisis. So I wanted to ask you, is there any tension between you and President Biden and the White House or your and Governor Hochul and her administration?
Mayor Adams: President Biden… And I said this when I was in Israel dealing with the conflict between the protest movement and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Both the protest movement and the prime minister, they love Israel. President Biden loves America. Governor Hochul loves America. Eric loves America.
When something is rooted in love, you're going to have disagreements. If you're married, you are going to have a disagreement with your spouse. You have disagreement with your children. Jordan and I have disagreements from time to time, but it doesn't mean we don't love each other.
We disagree on this issue. Governor Hochul has been an unbelievable partner with the subway safety plan, with cycling out of Covid, with helping me partner on housing, the New New York plan. President Biden was here when we went to Washington to get resources during the gun violence, of appointing an ATF head. We've done great things together.
We love this country. Right now, we are at a disagreement. I need the national government, the federal government, both houses, to come up with a real immigration reform package. I need the issues that we pointed out. The governor has made it clear that she believes this is something that is basically New York City. We just disagree on that. I believe this is a statewide issue and it should be managed by the state.
But that has nothing to do with the fact that I believe she has been an amazing partner and we've had a great relationship. There are going to be other times that we disagree. We don't always agree on things. Dana and I, we don't agree on a lot. I've been calling you a lot today, right?
Question: Thank you. Two questions.
Mayor Adams: See? He called on you because I kept calling on you.
Question: What role do you think the president's reelection considerations are playing on his administration's response to the migrant crisis in New York City? Unrelated, yesterday, City Council indicated it wanted to limit MSG's operating permit to five years, an action you can veto. Do you have any thoughts on Council's actions and what your own plans are?
Mayor Adams: I thought MSG should have received 10 years, but the Council used their authority. They spoke with the councilmen in the area and they made that decision. I respect that. That's within their authority, within their power. We made our recommendation but they have certain powers.
This is a great system, checks and balances. No one can get away with doing whatever they want, and so they made a decision. I respect this decision by the council.
The reelection part of this and how it impacts the president, I don't know the answer. He has his advisors. They could better tell him on that. I need to really focus on what's happening in the city and I'm focused on that.
Question: Mr. Mayor, earlier, as you indicated in your New York Law School interview, that you want the City Council to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new Rikers plan. Can you give us an idea of what that plan might look like and are there conversations happening already about that?
Mayor Adams: Well, let's look at this for a moment. We are going to four borough-based jails, four borough based jails. Right now, I think the population is around 40…. The most those borough-based jails can take is about 4,200. We're projected to have over 6,000. So those who are on Rikers now, because of bail reform and because of other reforms, you really have to do something bad to go to Rikers. Now, are we as a city willing to say that 2,000 extremely dangerous people, because we don't have enough space, we're going to turn them back onto the streets and back to the communities that they committed these crimes in the first place? I'm not ready to say that.
I think the City Council must look at this plan, where 50 percent of the people there have mental health illness and see, how do we come up with a plan that gets the reform we're looking for and the safety that we're looking for?
Now, if the law says, "Eric, you have to do A," I'm going to do A. I'm never going to break the law. I'm going to attempt to show people that we have to remain safe as a city.
As the plan currently stands, it is a question that is this a good public safety decision? Including the cost that has ballooned to a level that's unbelievable.
I think we all as leaders need to come back and say, "How do we deal with this issue that we are faced with in a few years?" Based on my partners, I have to go with whatever the outcome it is. I'm not going to get my way on everything.
Question: Mayor Adams, I want to ask you how close are you to [inaudible]?
Mayor Adams: Who?
Mayor Adams: I have some of the greatest numbers of people who receive fundraisers. I get a ton of fundraisers. I get a ton of people who stop me on the street.
Being a mayor don't ever... Don't ever underestimate a mayor that is among people as much as I am, the number of people that come to me. I am inundated every day, all day with people. You are at events and you see how many people come at me.
If you have to ask me did I know everyone who came or hosts an event or what have you? No, I don't know everyone that hosts events. I don't know everyone that wants me to come to this event.
Being a mayor, particularly a mayor that does not live in a bubble, I am constantly having people around me all day every day. Those who hosted events, I don't know all the names, I don't know all the faces. I have a fundraising team and they're handling that. Marcia?
Question: Sir, I have to ask you about the sites that the federal government has [inaudible]. The reason I'm asking-
Mayor Adams: I'm sorry, the what?
Question: The federal government, there's 11 sites they claim that they've given you that they want you to look at. You said were going to look at them. But the governor is opposed to many of those sites because they're upstate, they're not in New York City.
How are you going to rectify or get everybody together if you decide that you like some of the 11 sites that the federal government proposed? How are you going to get the governor to accept that, given the fact that you totally disagree on this whole idea?
Mayor Adams: Well, the sites that we got that were on state facilities, we could not go to the president and say, "Can you give us authorization to use the state site?" Sites that are under federal control, we can't go to the governor and say, "Can you give us right to use those sites?"
The federal government controls their sites, the state controls their site, and the city controls their sites. The federal government tells us we can use this site, we are going to listen to what the federal government states.
Question: Yesterday, in responding to the letter from Secretary Mayorkas, said she was opposed to letting the city use those 11 sites because she wanted all of the migrants to be in New York City and not to go beyond the five boroughs. Are you saying that if there are federal sites that they make available beyond the five boroughs, that you will send migrants there even if she doesn't want them?
Mayor Adams: No, we don't have an option. New York City has run out of room. Think about it for a moment. Think about a plan that states all of the migrants must stay in New York City. We're close to 60,000 that are still in our care, 10,000 a month.
Any plan that states all migrant must stay in New York City, that's a failed plan. Any plan that does not include stopping the flow at the border is a failed plan.
If the national leaders are saying, "We are not going to stop the flow," that's a failed plan. If the state leaders are saying, "It must stay in New York City," that's a failed plan. It's just not fair to New York City residents. We have 0.05 [percent] of the landmass, but we have 99.9 percent of the migrant asylum seekers.
Question: [Inaudible] supposed to be okay and the federal government says to you, "You can use Fort Trump or Fort Whatever upstate," are you going to do it even though the governor opposes it?
Mayor Adams: We are going to use any space that's available to take the pressure off of New York City residents. Whatever space we could use within the authorizing power, we are going to use.
If I get permission from the governor to use the state facility, we're going to use that. If I get permission from the federal government, we're going to use that. We're going to use any space that folks come in and say, "You have the authorization to use." Okay.