MANHATTAN — A prominent group of Muslim advocates is calling for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and his chief spokesman’s resignations over what they allege was an “attempted cover-up” of Kelly’s participation in an anti-Islamic video.
In a story posted late Tuesday, the New York Times quoted Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne saying that Kelly had indeed participated in the filming of "The Third Jihad," on Browne's recommendation.
The admission came a day after Browne told the paper that clips of Kelly in the video had been lifted from an old interview and that he had not cooperated with the controversial film, which was reportedly shown “on a continuous loop” to nearly 1,500 police recruits without Kelly's knowledge.
Kelly's role and the apparent reversal have left Muslim advocates fuming, following a year of increasingly strained relations.
“We’re at a breaking point,” said Cyrus McGoldrick, civil rights manager of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), which is expected to call for Kelly and Browne's resignation Thursday morning.
“For the Police Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne to be caught taking part in and helping in the production of an anti-Muslim propaganda film is just so mind-boggling that there really cannot be anything short for resignation,” he said, adding that had the film portrayed any other ethnic group, “heads would be rolling.”
Nermeen Arastu, a staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and a member of MACLC has called on the NYPD to retrain all of the officers who watched the film.
The latest incident comes after a year of growing tension between the NYPD and Muslim community, fueled by a series of reports alleging that the NYPD has been involved in a comprehensive domestic surveillance program, targeting Muslims.
Browne told the Times that Kelly found The Third Jihad “objectionable” and said he “should not have agreed to the interview" with the filmmakers, whom he described as having been "part of an 'Emmy-nominated ‘Dateline NBC’ team."
The NYPD did not respond to questions about Kelly's participation.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed police for exercising "terrible judgment" when they repeatedly played the film to new recruits.
A spokesman for the mayor declined to comment on Kelly’s involvement in the film Wednesday.