Prayer mats, pointing in the direction of Mecca, lined a pedestrian plaza and an entire block on 73rd Street in Jackson Heights, Queens, early on Thursday to mark the end of a month of fasting for Muslims and the beginning of a three-day feast that is traditionally spent in the company of close family and friends. Colored flag streamers hung along the sides of the streets, recycled boxes were circulated through the crowd to collect donations and hundreds of men took their shoes off and stood side by side to pray.
It was the usual scene — except for an unusual visitor this year.
Joseph J. Lhota, one of the Republican candidates for mayor, appeared before the sizable gathering, mostly South Asian and Muslim people, to introduce himself. While many of the Democratic candidates have made themselves known to the Muslim community in Jackson Heights and throughout other parts of the city, the Republican candidates have remained largely invisible.
But Mr. Lhota, addressing a congregation that had gathered in Diversity Plaza, said, “I really appreciate everything that the Muslim community brings to New York.
“I want to be your mayor,” he added. “I want to be the mayor of all New Yorkers.”
Several Democratic candidates for mayor have courted New York’s growing Muslim population by making specific promises. John C. Liu, currently the city comptroller, said he believed that surveillance of Muslim institutions by the Police Department was unconstitutional. Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, promised to add two Muslim holidays to the school calendar. Anthony D. Weiner, a former member of Congress, pointed out that he was married to a Muslim woman.
By contrast, Mr. Lhota, a former chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who previously served as a deputy mayor in the administration of Rudolph W. Giuliani, kept his message short and broad.
“It is very important,” he said, “that we continue to make sure that New York City is the city of opportunity and a place where people from all over the world want to come to be able to fulfill their American dream.”