The director of a Bay Ridge-based Arab-American organization has called on Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to step down over his role in appearing in an anti-Muslim film, having it screened during mandatory counter-terrorism training sessions, and for the program of surveillance aimed at Arab and Muslim communities in New York.
When initially challenged by the Village Voice a year ago, the NYPD first denied that any officer had seen The Third Jihad, a film produced by The Clarion Fund (itself an offshoot of Aish Hatorah, described by Atlantic Monthly columnist Jeffrey Goldberg as “just about the most fundamentalist movement in Judaism today”). The Department eventually admitted that “some” officers had seen it, but it wasn’t until a Freedom Of Information Act request by The Brennan Center For Justice came to fruition did the full impact become known – the film was screened on “continuous loop” to 68 lieutenants, 159 sergeants, 31 detectives and 1,231 patrol officers.
The Third Jihad shows “72 minutes of gruesome footage of bombing carnage, frenzied crowds, burning American flags, flaming churches, and seething mullahs” according to the Voice, while stating that “Americans are being told that most of the mainstream Muslim groups are moderate, when in fact if you look a little closer you’ll see a very different reality. One of their primary tactics is deception.”
The film includes pieces of an interview with Commissioner Kelly, which the Department initially claimed was culled from old interviews and used without permission. But it turned out that was more deception from the NYPD – it was eventually revealed that the film producers sat down with Kelly to interview him specifically for the film. Gothamist took care to document 10 high-profile cases of the Department lying to the press (or at least 10 times they got caught lying to the press).
Linda Sarsour, the director of the Bay Ridge-based Arab American Association of New York, has spoken to various press outlets, demanding that Ray Kelly be replaced as Commissioner. BK Southie contacted her directly and asked about the connection between this film screening, Kelly’s participation, and the pervasive state surveillance documented extensively by the AP last year. Sarsour replied:
This recent controversy over the showing of The Third Jihad to 1500 police officers is but one piece of a larger pattern of religious and ethnic bias against the Muslim-American community by the NYPD. While Commissioner Kelly and his Community Affairs department of One Police Plaza visit mosques and local centers to demonstrate partnership, they have been secretly infiltrating and spying on the very people and institutions in the Muslim community they called their friends. This was confirmed by the revelations that continue to surface through the AP investigative reports. For God’s sake, they have a Demographics Unit that focuses on 28 “ancestries of interest” including Black American Muslims. The ancestries of interest are Arab and predominantly Muslim majority countries.
If that’s not ethnic and religious profiling, I don’t know what is.
The issue now is not about one film, it’s about integrity of public officials those tasked with our tax payer dollars to protect all New Yorkers, but instead they are protecting most from the threat of “these people” who fall into one of the ancestries of interest.
Some call it “terrible judgment” that film was showed. There is no room for terrible judgment and I believe that current leadership of NYPD think they are accountable to no one. That is unacceptable and they need to go.
Mayor Bloomberg has also spoken out against the screening of the film, and described it as a black eye on the department and Kelly’s credibility. But, he continues to support Kelly to remain as Commissioner and is resisting calls for his termination.