Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
NYPD Played Controversial Anti-Muslim Film More Than First Indicated
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 03:08 PM
The NYPD showed a controversial film about Islam to more officers than it originally indicated, according to police documents obtained by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice.
The center said the film, called "The Third Jihad," is "virulently anti-Muslim" because it argues that mainstream Muslim groups seek to impose Shariah law on the United States.
"The Third Jihad" shows TV images of Hezbollah rocket attacks, children being held hostage by Muslim militants and a woman it says was arrested in Iran for wearing immodest clothing. It shows images it says were taken from Islamic videos and websites, including a doctored picture of an Islamic flag flying over the White House.
"Somebody exercised some terrible judgment," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, speaking in Albany. "I don't know who and we'll find out."
The video was not authorized by the NYPD or was it used in training sessions and or shown at the police academy, according to Paul Browne, deputy commissioner for the NYPD. But the film was looped on a TV screen at a Brooklyn location. As soon as someone complained about it, he said, the film was removed, and the sergeant who let the video play has been since been reprimanded.
In a January 13 letter to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Michael Price, counsel for the Brennan Center's Liberty and National Security Program, wrote that the film "characterizes ordinary Muslims in a highly offensive manner" and that it "seeks to incite unwarranted fears of ordinary Muslims and their motives."
According to the police documents, portions of which were blacked out, the film was screened over a period of three months, and was not authorized for use in training.
Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center's Liberty and National Security Program, said the revelations point to the need for stronger oversight of the NYPD. Currently, the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board processes complaints against the NYPD, but it lacks the authority to punish police officers accused of misconduct and can only make disciplinary recommendations to Kelly.
"If you look at its counterpart in the federal government, which is the FBI, the FBI operates under the umbrella of the Justice Department," Goitein said. "It’s overseen by Congressional committees. And there’s an Inspector General to keep an eye on its activities. The NYPD has none of that."
With the Associated Press