Muslim group rallies against NYC police commissioner

A Muslim group wants Ray Kelly to resign because of his participation in a film that they say paints all Muslims as terrorists.

Story highlights

  • The group wants Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to resign
  • They say documentary teaches police officers to suspect Muslims as terrorists
  • The film was screened during a terrorism training course, according to documents
  • Commissioner apologizes, says film's airing on NYPD property was unauthorized
A prominent Muslim civil liberties group held a small rally Friday outside New York police headquarters, continuing its call for the resignation of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and other reforms within the department.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations wants Kelly to step down because of his participation in a film that they say paints all Muslims as terrorists.
"Due to the fact that the police commissioner and Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg both refuse to accept the severity of their actions, or meet with local Islamic leaders in an attempt to mend the situation, we as a community with full force must stand up to the mistreatment and dismissal of our community at large," the group's website said.
"Silence and lack of reaction to this pressing issue will only allow this type systematic persecution of a minority community to continue and escalate without any reprimand."
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 have also called for Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne to resign, saying 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, adding that New York "deserves people they trust who do not discriminate against people."
The film's producer, Raphael Shore, said in a statement 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.
According to documents obtained by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, the film was screened during a New York Police Department terrorism training course that more than 1,000 officers attended.
In a statement released last week, 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," he said. "He needs to resign."