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Bloomberg Calls Anti-Muslim Film Featuring Ray Kelly 'An Embarrassment'

By Jill Colvin | January 26, 2012 4:26pm
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly speaks as Mayor Michael Bloomberg looks on at a City Hall news conference in November 2011.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly speaks as Mayor Michael Bloomberg looks on at a City Hall news conference in November 2011.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's participation in an anti-Muslim film was an "embarrassment" for his administration, but dismissed calls for the city's top cop to resign.

Muslim groups have called on Kelly and his chief spokesman, Paul Browne, to step down in the wake of revelations that the NYPD misled the public over Kelly's participation in the film "The Third Jihad." Kelly was interviewed on camera for the movie, which paints Muslims as bent on world domination.

The NYPD initially said Kelly didn't cooperate with the film, and that the interview clips shown were taken from old footage. A day later, Browne told the New York Times that Kelly had in fact been interviewed for the film, on Browne's recommendation.

"I regret that we didn't have the whole story right away," Bloomberg told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Queens. "That wasn't done as well as we could have done it and next time we'll do a little better."

Bloomberg adamantly defended Kelly, who's also been fending off allegations of domestic spying on Muslim groups and leaders.

"Commissioner Kelly should not resign," the mayor said, praising Kelly and Browne.

Bloomberg said Kelly was "interviewed a long time ago" and his comments were "sort of taken out of context." The mayor added, "I've known Ray Kelly for a long time. One of the things he rightly takes enormous pride in is the outreach of all communities, the openness of the police department to members or every faith, of every ethnicity."

Still, he said, "I think it's fair to say that it was a little bit of an embarrassment that this film was made," and admitted that it will hurt Kelly's credibility.

"So Ray's got to work at establishing or reestablishing or reinforcing the crediblity that he does have," Bloomberg said.

The mayor praised Kelly Thursday as someone who "probably visits more mosques than a lot of people."

News of the NYPD's screening of the anti-Muslim film comes five months after an Associated Press investigation revealed police were spying on Muslim communities as part of the department's anti-terrorism efforts. Bloomberg defended the tactics, saying police were doing their job preventing terrorism.

Bloomberg also defended Browne, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for public information.

"Paul Browne is as honest and as competent as anybody in the business of representing the city and giving out information," Bloomberg said. "And I'm sure he acted in good faith."