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Tag: NYC

December 5, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Justice: Reforming the NYPD and Reforming our Slave Mentality


Commissioner Ray Kelly’s recent visit to the Jamaica Muslim Center was a gathering of mixed sentiments. Recent revelations of NYPD spying on the entire New York Muslim community, including over 250 mosques, Muslim student groups, and Muslim-owned businesses, has certainly created a very palpable level of friction between the Muslim community and the police department. Law abiding Muslim citizens, guilty of no crimes, have felt betrayed and wrongfully targeted and yet Commissioner Kelly has continuously defended the NYPD’s surveillance practices. That being said, it seemed rather peculiar for the man in charge of the NYPD to be making an appearance before members of the very community his police department spent years and valuable resources on spying. Even stranger was the fact that the Commissioner and this small group of Muslims hosting him seemed intent on sweeping the concerns of their community members under the rug, and wanted to promote a facade that all was well between the NYPD and the city’s Muslim population.

Naturally during the open mic question and answer session, many members of the community did voice their concerns regarding issues of surveillance, NYPD informants being planted in Muslim congregations, and concerns over a recent case of entrapment in which a young Bangladeshi man was lured by the FBI to commit criminal acts. Disappointingly, and yet predictably, Commissioner Kelly responded to many of these questions with very diplomatic “non-answers” which always ended in him unapologetically defending NYPD tactics used against the Muslim community, assuring questioners that such policies were for their own good.

Despite the Commissioner’s bizarre appearance and disappointing answers, the one part of this entire scenario that is the most puzzling is that this mosque was even hosting an event like this in the first place. The Jamaica Muslim Center was one of the religious centers targeted by the NYPD. They were monitoring this very center, and yet here were the board member’s literally singing the Commissioner’s praises and articulating their supposed love for him at the podium. In normal human interactions, you wouldn’t expect someone to be lavishly praising one who very recently wronged them without regret or apology. One could only feel pity towards these board members, who seemed to have deluded themselves into believing that if they threw enough rose petals at the Commissioner’s feet, that he would in turn view them as equal partners and maybe even treat them as friends. The thing is, the NYPD has proven to mosque leaders before that they’re very good at pretending to be partners and friends in front of the cameras, but in practice, Muslim community leaders who went out of their way to reach out to the NYPD to establish good relations were not spared from being spied on by the very same Police department. What good is this supposed friendship worth then, if in the end you will all still be treated as suspects and potential troublemakers all the same?

What we want to see is a better NYPD. An NYPD that is held accountable for its abuses of civil rights, of Muslims and all New Yorkers. An NYPD that truly treats the city’s Muslim citizens as equals, and yes, perhaps even as friends. But this won’t happen so long as the Commissioner continues to pretend there isn’t a problem. Especially not when small groups of mosque leaders feel that treating the Commissioner like an honored celebrity will somehow change the facts on the ground for them, and for all of New York City’s Muslims.

-Arslan Rahman
October 11, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Linda Sarsour's Testimony for the NYC Council Committee on Public Safety Hearing

Below is Executive Director Linda Sarsour's testimony for the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety Hearing on October 10, 2012.

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where I live and work is home to the largest Arab American community in the state of New York, an area heavily targeted by NYPD and other federal law enforcement agencies. Our businesses, mosques, coffee shops, civic associations all monitored by the Demographics Unit of the NYPD and mentioned in secret documents revealed through reports by the Associated Press. Young college students who recognized their individual names, emails they sent and events they organized. Our previous Imam, Sheikh Reda Shehata and our mosque Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, were listed amongst those monitored. A mosque, a sacred haven, a place where community members escape to find serenity and deepen their relationship with God. This is the same mosque that has invited and hosted NYPD officials on dozens of occasions, opened our doors to them, broke bread with them and extended our hand in partnership and cooperation. It is these same NYPD officials that have been authorizing the surveillance and monitoring of our entire community, not based on evidence or probable cause but based on ethnicity and religion. Its not just about statistics - the number of mosques, cafes or number of informants – its about the wounded psyche of an entire community. Trauma, mistrust, alienation.

The targeting and profiling of any group based upon race, ethnicity and national origin not only reflects bias but also is completely ineffective means for law enforcement to prevent crime. The Arab and Muslim communities in New York are guilty until proven innocent which goes against everything our constitution and our country stands for.

NYPD officials including Commissioner Kelly who oversaw these initiatives that clearly violate the civil rights of New Yorkers must be investigated and held accountable for their actions and a process must be expediently implemented to safeguard that such abuses will never be justified by NYPD policy. This process is the passage of the Community Safety Act and more specifically the NYPD Inspector General Act. An inspector general would provide transparency thus allowing the Mayor and the City Council to better exercise their oversight responsibilities and increase public confidence in policing. The inspector general would have the mandate, expertise, and perspective to make sure that as NYPD works to keep our communities safe they do so consistent with our constitutionally guaranteed liberties.

“I could tell you that I have never made a lead from rhetoric that came from a Demographics report and I'm here since 2006, I don't recall other ones prior to my arrival." These words are not my words they were said by Assistant Chief of NYPD Thomas Galati in a June 28 deposition. No leads translate to an ineffective program. In light of a weak economy we should ensure that our tax dollars are spent efficiently this includes education, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation. We owe it to New Yorkers to do the right thing and the right thing is to pass the Community Safety Act.
August 21, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Disgraceful Anti-Muslim Act Has No Place in Community


Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and AAANY Executive Director Linda Sarsour released the following statement in response to the heinous, anti-Muslim act perpetrated at John D’Amato Field on Staten Island on Sunday:

​“The vile act of hatred directed toward our Muslim brothers and sisters at the conclusion of Ramadan is truly disheartening to all of us who believe in the right to religious freedom that our country was founded on. It is our duty as New Yorkers to make our community a place of acceptance and peace where we celebrate diversity and learn from one another. The act committed at John D’Amato Field on Sunday must serve as a wake-up-call for all of us to remain vigilant in our efforts to protect our neighbors’ rights. Despicable acts like these cannot and will not be tolerated in our community,” said Assemblywoman Malliotakis.

"Though we have seen a rise in anti-Muslim incidents across the country in recent weeks which include bigoted comments from some elected officials, we salute Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis for her strong stance against prejudice towards New York Muslims. Her leadership demonstrates that, no matter what side of the aisle one is on, all elected officials can stand for America's first and most cherished right; freedom of religion", stated Linda Sarsour, Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York.”

Police are investigating an incident in which pieces of raw bacon were spread across John D’Amato field on Staten Island prior to a ceremony attended by roughly 1,500 Muslims marking the conclusion of Ramadan on Sunday.