New York Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio says he wants his newly-announced transition committee to help "assemble a team that's devoted to building one great city where everyone shares in our prosperity."
Let's hope free speech isn't one of the subjects for which De Blasio seeks input.
New York University Muslim Chaplain Khalid Latif is among the 60 people chosen for what is largely a symbolic advisory appointment. In 2006, when deadly protests broke out in the Muslim world over cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet Muhammad, Latif led a campaign to stop the cartoons from being displayed at an NYU student discussion. He urged students to write to NYU administrators, and wrote to the university's president, ominously warning that the school could make itself a target for violence if the program included the drawings.
"(T)he potential of what might happen after they (the cartoons) are shown is something else that should be considered and not taken lightly," Latif wrote.
"NYU has facilities all over the world and Muslims also live all over the world," he added. People won't distinguish between the student group organizing the discussion panel and the university. "Rather, at that time all people will be thinking about is New York University and the decision it made…"
As a chaplain with influence over Muslim students, Latif could have used the opportunity to show that people can be offended but still defend free expression. He could have taken a clear stand against the violence and encouraged debate. He chose to stifle it instead.
The university capitulated and four blank pedestals were placed on the stage in protest.
Latif also is listed as a board member for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) New York chapter in the group's 2008 annual report. The FBI cut off all non-investigative communication with CAIR that year after evidence gathered in a terror-financing trial placed CAIR and two of its founders within a Hamas-support network in the United States.
De Blasio becomes mayor Jan. 1.