Makers defend Islam movie criticized by NYC mayor?
By Rizwan Khatik - Thu Jan 26, 5:21 am
NEW YORK: New York’s police commissioner apologized Wednesday for appearing in a documentary movie about terrorism that Muslim groups have criticized as inflammatory, and said his department acted wrongly when it later showed the film to counterterrorism trainees.
A spokesman for Raymond Kelly had previously denied the commissioner had any participation in the making of the “The Third Jihad,” suggesting last year that footage of Kelly was lifted from another source.
But on Wednesday Kelly said he had sat for an interview in 2007 because the filmmaker had “bona fides” in television and with the White House. The movie later was shown on a continuous loop on the sidelines during New York Police Department counterterrorism sessions.
“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,” Kelly said in a written statement.
Police stopped playing the film after one of the trainees complained, he said.
“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,” Kelly wrote.
Some Muslim groups reacted angrily at the news. The admission “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 Wednesday.
“The Third Jihad,” produced by the conservative Clarion Fund, accuses some moderate Muslims of being more radical than they appear on the surface and uses vivid footage of bombings and terror attacks to illustrate the danger of radical Islam. Speakers interviewed in the film warn viewers repeatedly that Western civilization is under attack.
Nearly 1,500 police officers went through the training and may have seen the film, according to police documents obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice, a think tank at New York University.
Muslim activists say they worry that the film teaches police officers to regard all Muslims as suspects. Last year an investigation by The Associated Press revealed the police department has operated a secret surveillance program targeting ethnic neighborhoods.