(QUEENS, NY, 11/16/12) — A coalition of civic and religious organizations* today submitted an open letter to New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly objecting to his decision to visit a mosque in Queens while ignoring calls for reform of discriminatory NYPD policies, including the mass surveillance of Muslim communities, the stop and frisk of youth and harassment of low-wage workers.
Kelly is scheduled to visit the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens later today. The mosque is one of more than 200 Islamic centers in the New York City area, and is one of the Muslim houses of worship that were spied on by the NYPD intelligence division.
SEE: NYPD Intelligence Division Document Released by Associated Press
The letter sent to Kelly reads in part:
“While our calls for a substantive meeting to discuss NYPD policies and our community continue to be ignored, we find it inappropriate and misguided that you chose to handpick a venue and audience for 'Muslim outreach.' This is a hollow gesture at best, and at worst another inappropriate, inflammatory, un-thoughtful decision to exploit the Muslim community.”
The NYPD has been the focus of intense scrutiny since the Associated Press revealed in a series of reports the unconstitutional invasion of privacy and warrantless surveillance of innocent American Muslims.
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) recently called on the New York City Council to pass legislation that would increase oversight of the NYPD and cut the department's unconstitutional spying program, including the aggressive “baiting” of Muslims by NYPD informants. The “baiting” practice was revealed in an Associated Press report on the still-evolving New York Police Department (NYPD) Muslim spying scandal.
Today's meeting is an example of an NYPD strategy to divide and disempower Muslims says CAIR-NY Executive Director Muneer Awad:
“Instead of meeting with people who are concerned with NYPD policies targeting minority communities, Kelly instead reaches out to Muslims legitimately concerned with interfaith outreach, and uses them as photo props to deflect negative attention associated with discriminatory NYPD policies.”
* SIGNATORIES to the open letter to Commissioner Kelly include: (in alphabetical order)
- Arab American Association of New York
- Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
- Association of Muslim American Lawyers
- Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) — New York
- Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR), Main Street Legal Services, City University of New York School of Law
- DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving
- Executive Committee, The Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of Metropolitan New York
- Muslim American Society of New York
- Muslim Consultative Network
- Muslim Progressive Traditionalist Alliance
- Women In Islam, Inc.
CAIR-NY is a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its
mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-NY Advocacy Director Cyrus McGoldrick, Cell: 203-206-6883, firstname.lastname@example.org; On-site contact: Fahd Ahmed, DRUM, Cell: 940-391-2660; Faiza Ali, AAANY, Cell: 718-724-3041