Ray Kelly’s Sorry, But Should He Resign Over Anti-Islam Film Flap?
Gothamist – NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly rarely apologizes, but yesterday he was forced to drop the A-Bomb in an attempt to defuse the controversy over an anti-Islam propaganda documentary that was screened on a continuous loop for over 1,200 police officers in 2010. Kelly makes a brief appearance in the documentary, called The Third Jihad, talking about the threat of nuclear terrorism. Although Kelly’s right hand man Paul Browne had earlier claimed that Kelly’s appearance was culled from old interviews, Browne was forced to admit on Tuesday that he had in fact recommended Kelly sit for the interview, which lasted 90 minutes.
Kelly, it should be noted, did not apologize for appearing in The Third Jihad, which was financed by a conservative non-profit and claims that even moderate Muslims cannot be trusted because they’re bent on hoisting an Islamic flag over the White House. In his statement, Kelly wrote:
While it never became part of the Department’s curriculum, and was not authorized for any training, regrettably it was shown in a room where officers who were filling out paperwork or on break from actual training had an opportunity to view it over an extended period in 2010. 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.
Councilmember Jumaane Williams thinks Browne should resign, and Muslim leaders–already upset over the NYPD’s vigorous efforts to spy on Muslim communities–are holding a press conference at City Hall today demanding Kelly’s resignation. The NYPD’s screening of the documentary “marks the blatant bigotry and lack of transparency that permeates the NYPD’s approach to New York’s Muslim communities,” the Muslim Civil Liberties Coalition said.
Kelly disciplined the unidentified sergeant who screened the film on a continuous loop, but also defended her, telling the Daily News, “This was somebody who was trying to do, I think, a good thing. It was a film that she thought had valuable information and that you’d be able to go in and learn something. The intent was to impart information. I think it was a good faith effort.” In Kelly’s estimation, the film was “just overdone. It starts out as a documentary and then it’s inflammatory. It sort of morphs into that.” Oh, also, it’s CALLED THE THIRD JIHAD.So it kind of morphs into something inflammatory starting with the title.
“NYPD officials should not have permitted and actively participated in the screening and creation of such hateful propaganda produced by a special interest organization,” says Nermeen Arastu, staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). “The NYPD must retrain all 1500 officers who watched The Third Jihad during cadet training. The NYPD treats all Muslim communities in this city as suspicious. It is imperative for the City Council to institute an oversight mechanism over the NYPD.”
By John Del Signore