- Activists say "The Third Jihad" vilifies the Muslim-American community
- The film was screened during a terrorism training course, according to documents
- Commissioner apologizes, says film's airing on NYPD property was "unauthorized"
- Groups are also calling for Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne to resign
Two prominent Muslim civil liberties groups called for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to resign on Thursday because of his participation in a film that they say paints all Muslims as terrorists.
"Involvement with 'Third Jihad' sends a clear message that the NYPD's dealings with New York's diverse Muslim communities are based on bigotry and blanket suspicion," the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) stated in a press release.
Muslim activists say "The Third Jihad," a documentary about radical Islam, vilifies the American Muslim community and teaches police officers to suspect Muslims as terrorists.
Muslim activists are also calling for Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne to resign, saying that he first denied and only later admitted that Kelly was interviewed for the film.
"They were not telling the truth about their involvement in the propaganda film against Muslims," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), adding that New York "deserves people they trust who do not discriminate against people."
The film's producer, Ralphael Shore, released a written statement defending the film stating that the film accurately portrays radical Islam:
"Those that have blasted the film are attempting to stifle an important debate about the internal state of the Muslim community in America, and whether politicized Islam and indoctrination pose tangible security threats," Shore said in the statement.
According to documents obtained by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, the film was screened during an NYPD terrorism training course that more than 1,000 police officers attended.
In a statement released Wednesday night, Kelly acknowledged that he had been interviewed for the film five years ago by a filmmaker and, "while it never became part of the Department's curriculum, and was not authorized for any training," the film had been screened "for an extended period in 2010" in a room where officers were on break from training.
According to the statement, the screening stopped after an officer who was offended by it brought it to department officials' attention.
"I offer my apologies to members of the Muslim community, in particular, who would find the film inflammatory and its airing on Department property, though unauthorized, to be inappropriate," Kelly said.
Awad said the police commissioner's apology was not enough.
"It's not personal, but from our standpoint, our trust in the police chief has been eroded," the CAIR leader said. "He needs to resign."