Muslim groups protest Bloomberg New Year's breakfast
STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 1/4/2012, 6:16 p.m.
In a sternly worded letter, members of various Muslim groups told New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that they would not attend his annual interfaith breakfast because of alleged spying by the New York Police Department (NYPD).
The breakfast, which is traditionally held at the historic New York Public Library building in Midtown Manhattan, won't see members of any local Muslim groups after a series of Associated Press reports suggested that the NYPD was spying on and profiling Muslim New Yorkers.
The series of articles, released in August, highlighted investigative reports detailing how, since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the NYPD-in collaboration with the CIA-monitored and profiled all elements of Muslim public life in the five boroughs. The police allegedly collected information on Muslims who attended schools, businesses and mosques. According to the AP, the reports were based on leaked NYPD documents and interviews with anonymous former and current NYPD officials.
Several figures from religious organizations and advocacy groups signed the letter, including Faiza N. Ali of Brooklyn Congregations United; Adem Carroll, co-founder of the Muslim Consultative Network; Ahmed Jamil of the Muslim American Society; and Iman Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood.
In the letter, the spiritual leaders accused the mayor of squandering all of the goodwill he built up in 2010 when he defended the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero and when he criticized anti-Islamic rhetoric in the aftermath of Bronx fires that killed a Muslim family and demolished a mosque.
"Mayor Bloomberg, the extent of these civil rights violations is astonishing, yet instead of calling for accountability and the rule of law, you have thus far defended the NYPD's misconduct," the letter stated. "We, on the other hand, believe that such measures threaten the rights of all Americans and deepen mistrust between our communities and law enforcement.
"We are not alone in our belief. Many New Yorkers continue to express a variety of concerns centered on a lack of law enforcement accountability in our city, from stop and frisk procedures in African-American and Spanish-speaking communities to the tactics used in the evacuation of Zuccotti Park."
But according to the CIA's inspector general, an independent investigator ruled that the actions by them and the NYPD didn't show any evidence of broken laws.
Bloomberg has ignored or refused to comment on any questions regarding the Muslim boycott during recent news conferences. When the AmNews tried to obtain an official comment from the mayor's office, we were told they'd get back to us. As of press time, and after the breakfast, we're still waiting for a response.