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Muslim Protest for More NYPD Monitoring

Muslim Protest for More NYPD Monitoring

(AP) Muslims at rally: NYPD surveillance keeps us safe
By COLLEEN LONG
Associated Press
NEW YORK
Qazi Qayyoom, an imam in Queens, says he believes the New York Police Department is keeping his community safe, and if that means some Muslims are monitored, so be it.


Qayyoom and about three dozen other people on Monday attended the first rally held by Muslims in support of the NYPD following a series of Associated Press stories detailing the police department’s secret surveillance of mosques, Muslim-owned businesses and college campuses across the Northeast since Muslim extremists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, killing thousands of people.

The rally, held by the American Islamic Leadership Coalition outside police headquarters in downtown Manhattan, illustrated a division even among the faith’s adherents about how far authorities should go in seeking to protect the nation’s largest city from terrorists. Other Muslim groups were quick to say the coalition didn’t represent their views.

Among the speakers was Dr. Zudhi Jasser, the narrator of “The Third Jihad,” a documentary about the dangers of radical Islam that the NYPD showed in the lobby of a police training area and has since disavowed.


Jasser and others, including activist Manda Zand Ervin, said that the danger is clearly coming from within the Muslim community and that it’s up to other Muslims to help law enforcement stop the threat. They said Muslims do not want to give up civil rights and are behind transparency in police work but it is wrong to suggest that all Muslims are somehow afraid of the NYPD, the nation’s biggest police department.


The NYPD didn’t comment Monday. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said he is doing everything within the law to protect the city from another terrorist attack. The department is bound under federal guidelines, known the Handschu guidelines, on how it can do certain investigations, and Kelly said the department’s efforts follow them.


The police department has been criticized by many civil rights groups and politicians who say its efforts go too far. Several other rallies have been held in the past months by other Muslim groups that drew hundreds of people to protest the NYPD’s tactics. Each side says it’s not being accurately represented by the other.

Critics of Monday’s rally pointed out that there were few people in attendance and that “The Third Jihad” had been described even by city officials as “over the top.”


Linda Sarsour, a member of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, said she objected to the idea held by some speakers Monday that Muslims opposed to police surveillance were “radical.”


Far uptown from police headquarters, a line of yellow cabs was parked outside the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, where many of the men who stopped to pray Monday were taxi drivers. Janitor Yasin Mansoer said the NYPD surveillance of Muslims is “terrible.”


Some politicians have lauded the police department’s efforts, while others have demonized them. U.S. Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and a resolute supporter of the NYPD, said the NYPD deserved a medal and other police departments should mimic its counterterror efforts.


The NYPD’s efforts included operations in New Jersey’s largest city, Newark, where Democratic Mayor Cory Booker and his police director last month said the NYPD misled them, telling them only that it was going into the city as part of a terrorism investigation, not that their entire Muslim community was under scrutiny. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has lambasted NYPD officials as being arrogant and unwilling to work with other law enforcement groups.

When asked about the criticism by Christie, King said he thought the problem could be resolved easily.


Christie said King was just defending his “buddy,” the police commissioner.


King also criticized media reports, saying the AP and The New York Times were slanderous and failed to show both sides of the issue.

The AP said it was “proud” of its coverage of the NYPD spying story.


The Times didn’t immediately comment.

At Monday’s rally in support of the NYPD, some people said they went to show there are many faces to the Muslim community. Mohammed Hai, a business owner from Long Island, said he wants everyone to know that the extremists don’t represent all Muslims.


Qayyoom, who’s from Bangladesh, said his friends and relatives aren’t bothered by the NYPD’s tactics, especially because they were used to much worse in their native countries.


___

Associated Press writers Karen Matthews in New York and Beth DeFalco in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.

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