In the aftermath of a terrorist attack by an Uzbek immigrant in Lower Manhattan that claimed eight lives, Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized President Trump for attempting to limit immigration to the United States on the basis of religion or country of origin.
“I think this is a very crucial distinction,” he said. “There should be very, very careful vetting of anyone where there’s an indication of a concern but not because of their religion or not because of their country of origin.”
He reiterated that people should be focused on working together and the incident itself.
“This should be a unity moment where the focus is on solving the crime and figuring out how we can move forward together, not the pointing of fingers,” de Blasio continued.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for his part, said that Trump’s tweets were “not helpful.”
“I think they tended to point fingers and politicize the situation,” Cuomo said. “He was referring back to an immigration policy that dealt with a lottery and blaming people who passed that immigration policy. His tweet wasn’t even accurate as far as I’m concerned. That was a bipartisan law that was passed that had basically no relevance to the facts of this situation.”
He said that people “play into the hands of a terrorist” to the extent that they “disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society.”
“The tone now should be the exact opposite by all officials on all levels,” he continued. “This is about unification. This is about solidarity. This is about normalization. This is about protection. And the last thing it’s about is politics, period.”
After the briefing, de Blasio said that he and Trump spoke just after 3 p.m. for about five minutes. Trump also said that he spoke with the governor.
According to a federal criminal complaint released Wednesday, the FBI said that when law enforcement agents interviewed Saipov, he “requested to display ISIS’ flag in his hospital room and stated that he felt good about what he had done.”
John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, said Wednesday that it “isn’t about Islam” or about “what mosque he attends.”
“There are hundreds of thousands law-abiding Muslims in New York City who are adversely affected by things like this and it’s probably a good time to say we have seen in the aftermath of incidents like this bias incidents, hate crimes, assaults,” Miller said. “As has been said here before it is a time to come together and to not confuse this terrorist act with any broad brush against a religion or a particular institution.”