“I’d like to say I planned it,” Ms. Quinn joked.
She grabbed a plate, sat down, set aside her fork and picked up one of the stuffed vine leaves sitting on her plate.
The event at Dyker Beach Golf Course was an iftar, a meal to break the daylong fast during Ramadan, hosted by local Muslim Americans. For Ms. Quinn and several other candidates who attended, it was just another stop on a busy campaign trail. But for the Muslim community, it represented an opportunity to make its voice heard and build bridges with key government figures.
Among those present was John C. Liu, the New York City comptroller who is also a Democratic mayoral candidate; he arrived shortly after Ms. Quinn and settled on the other side of the room. Sal F. Albanese, another Democratic candidate, had come and gone. State Senator Eric Adams, a Democrat who is running for Brooklyn borough president, sat in a corner of the room. And a group of Brooklyn police officers occupied a table next to Ms. Quinn’s.
“I don’t remember, ever before, the Muslim community having this kind of a presence in a citywide election” Ms. Quinn said.
Her observation struck a chord.
Naji Almontaser, an American citizen born in Yemen, sat across the table from Ms. Quinn and said that reports about police surveillance of mosques and other Muslim institutions had agitated the community and driven more people to speak out over the last two years.
The community was already aggrieved, he said, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg vetoed a Council recommendation to add two Muslim holidays to the school calendar.
In an appeal for support, Ms. Quinn said she would close schools for those holidays.
“So if you get elected, we can count on that?” Mr. Almontaser asked.
“Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.” she responded.
The dinner on Thursday, which was planned by the Arab Muslim American Federation, an umbrella organization that represents 17 civic, educational and religious groups, was the latest of several events this year in which mayoral candidates and Muslim groups courted one another. The Muslim Democratic Club of New York estimates that there are 105,000 registered Muslim voters in New York City.
In May, the Arab American Association of New York and the Islamic Center at New York University held a forum where Mr. Liu and another Democratic candidate, the Rev. Erick J. Salgado, said that they believed surveillance of Muslim institutions by the Police Department was unconstitutional.
Earlier this month, another Democratic candidate, Anthony D. Weiner, spoke at a Muslims for Peace event in Queens and noted that his wife was Muslim.
On Thursday night in Brooklyn, Ms. Quinn was still finishing her rice and okra when she was called to the lectern. “The Muslim community is on the political map in New York,” she said. “The days of ignoring the interests and the significance of this community, those days are over.”
For the first time in the evening, the room filled with energy and erupted in applause.
Mr. Liu, who has repeatedly visited Muslim groups, followed.
“Assalamu Alaikum,” he said, offering the customary Arabic greeting. “With a lot of hard work, inshallah, we will win this election and we will change this city.”
As the candidates left, a few older men lingered. Ahmed Lamada, an Egyptian-American and the president of the federation, said he hoped that Arabs and Muslims would one day figure more prominently in the local political landscape.
“We bring people in to let them know that we’re a normal community, that we’re not strangers,” he said.
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