With the gathering, at an evening meal known as Iftar, Mr. Christie opened what Muslim leaders recall as a period of exceptional warmth between the state’s sizable Muslim community and a prominent Republican. The governor became a fierce defender of local Muslims, rebuking his party in forceful terms for its hostility to a proposed Islamic center in Manhattan, and denouncing what he called “the crazies” on the right for attacking a Muslim lawyer Mr. Christie had selected for a judgeship.
But as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination half a decade later, Mr. Christie’s ties to Muslim leaders in New Jersey have grown deeply strained. The governor has recast himself as a relentless warrior against terrorism, with little patience for what he calls “politically correct” national security policy.
The Council on American Islamic Relations, a national advocacy organization that identified Mr. Christie in a 2013 report as an exemplary Republican, has condemned the governor for his comments on refugees. Jim Sues, director of the group’s New Jersey affiliate, said in an interview that Mr. Christie had helped cast “a shadow of suspicion and fear over all Muslims.” Read More