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December 28, 2011 Linda Sarsour, email@example.com, 917-306-3323; Faiza N. Ali, firstname.lastname@example.org ,718-724-3041
NY Muslim Leaders to Boycott Mayor’s Breakfast Over NYPD Spying
NEW YORK, NY [Wednesday, December 28th, 2011] – A number of New York Muslim community leaders announced today that they will boycott Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s annual interfaith breakfast scheduled for Friday because of his public support for the NYPD’s widespread warrantless spying operation targeting Muslim New Yorkers. According to an Associated Press investigation, NYPD officers have been spying on Muslim New Yorkers, often without any reason for suspicion, as they go about their daily lives at their businesses, school and mosques.
For several years, Mayor Bloomberg has gathered a diverse group of the city’s religious leaders on the last weekday of the year to address them and wish the city’s many religious communities well.
“Warrantless spying is seriously harmful to our city on many levels,” said Imam Ashrafuz Khan, president of the Islamic Circle of North America’s New York Chapter. “It violates the constitutional rights of New Yorkers and weakens ties between law enforcement and law-abiding Muslims who should be treated as allies in keeping our city safe and secure.”
An open letter, sent to Bloomberg today and signed by a number of Muslim invitees to the Mayor’s breakfast, states in part:
“We believe with heartfelt conviction that during times when a community’s rights are being flagrantly violated its leaders cannot in good conscience appear at a public gathering with the government official who is ultimately responsible and smile for the camera as if all is well, when we know full well that it is not.” “Muslim New Yorkers are united in our opposition to the unjust, warrantless surveillance of our faith community. The buck stops at the office of the Mayor for authorization of such operations, and some of us who were invited to Mr. Bloomberg’s Breakfast do not feel that we can accept his invitation without substantial discussion of what we view as a civil liberties crisis that affects all New Yorkers,” said Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, president of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York and imam of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood.
When Rabbi Michael Weiser of The Free Synagogue of Flushing, one of the religious leaders giving invocations at the breakfast, learned about the issue, he stated: “I am in full support of my Muslim brethren in their plight against these violations. I know how it feels when a certain community is being singled out by a government. I hope this un-American, unconstitutional, unjust practice ends.”
The boycotting leaders include men and women of diverse ethnic backgrounds who serve the Muslim community and all New Yorkers in various capacities. A number of interfaith leaders are also offering support for the letter to Mayor Bloomberg. For a complete list of boycott participants and supporters, see Link Pressure against the vast warrantless spying operation grew recently when 34 members of the U.S. Congress, including a ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee and eight Members of the House Judiciary Committee, called for the House Judiciary Committee and the Department of Justice to investigate the NYPD’s surveillance program.