Some New York City Muslims said they have nothing to hide and welcome NYPD surveillance at a rally outside police headquarters today.
The rally brought Muslim groups and local politicians together to counter criticism of the NYPD, said Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum For Democracy, who organized the rally.
Recently, the NYPD has come under fire for a series of Associated Press reports that detailed how the NYPD sent undercover officers to conduct surveillance at mosques, Muslim communities and even at Muslim student events outside of the state.
“We as Muslims recognize we have a major problem,” Jasser told Metro. “There are many of us that aren’t in denial -- there’s an ideological problem that we need help rooting out. There are a lot of Muslims that support the NYPD and what they’re doing.”
Jasser was also the narrator of the controversial film, "The Third Jihad," in which he says Muslims want to “infiltrate and dominate America.” It included interviews from NYPD police commissioner Ray Kelly, though Kelly later said he regretted his involvement.
Saturday, Kelly ramped up the public debate over the police program, telling a Fordham University Law School alumni luncheon that the outcry over NYPD “spying” was caused by a "misrepresentation" of the counterterrorism program.
“If terrorists aren’t limited by borders and boundaries, we can’t be either,” Kelly said.
Jasser said that the students that protested Kelly’s speech were “victimizing” themselves.
“You should not be ashamed of anything you’re saying unless you are promoting violence,” Jasser said.
Staten Island high school senior Samir Abdelkhalek, 18, also spoke at the rally.
“I don’t see what the NYPD did wrong at all,” Abdelkhalek said. “They were in public spaces.”
Abdelekhalek is a member of the Muslim Liberty Project, a subgroup of the AIFD for young Muslims. He felt students’ concerns were “silly.”
“I have nothing to hide,” Abdelekhalek said. “I don’t understand their concerns, unless they’re saying something that the NYPD needs to hear.“
Speaking for the Muslim community?
Education consultant and Muslim community activist Sara Bokhari, 29, said pro-NYPD protesters were “out of touch with reality.”
“I think it’s a joke,” Bokhari said. “They have a right to say whatever ridiculous things they want to say, but they’re not standing up for justice.”
Bokhari said that the news of the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslim communities infringed on her rights and was the result of racial profiling.
“It’s a complete misallocation of police resources,” Bokhari said. “There are cops spying on innocent Muslims instead of focusing on actual criminals.“
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