NYC Muslim & Interfaith Leaders Letter to Mayor Bloomberg Declining Interfaith Breakfast Invitation

Posted Dec 28, 2011      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version Bookmark and Share

NYC Muslim and Interfaith Leaders Letter to Mayor Bloomberg Declining Interfaith Breakfast Invitation

The following letter was posted online by the signatories.  The Muslim leaders will not be attending the Mayor’s annual interfaith breakfast, and this letter explains their reasons.

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

As Muslim religious, civic, and lay leaders in the city of New York, we have received the invitation to your 2011 annual year-end interfaith breakfast. We recognize from our experience over the years that such events can be a very good opportunity for the city’s leaders to come together for the betterment of our society, in the spirit of interfaith cooperation. We strongly value the civic and interfaith relationships celebrated at this event. However, this year we have decided to respectfully decline your invitation.

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 cameras as if all is well, when we know full well that it is not.

Last year, we appreciated your principled position in defense of Park51 and American Muslims as we endured attacks from hate groups and opportunistic politicians who promoted un-American, divisive rhetoric. We also appreciated your compassion and responsiveness when two horrific fires in the Bronx resulted in the perishing of many members of a Muslim family and the destruction of a Mosque.

However, despite these welcome and positive actions, very disturbing revelations have come to light regarding the City’s treatment of Muslim New Yorkers. This past August, the Associated Press released a series of investigative reports that detailed how, over the past decade since 9/11, the NYPD has been monitoring and profiling virtually every layer of NYC Muslim public life, often with no suspicion of wrongdoing. These reports were based in large part on leaked NYPD documents and interviews with unidentified former and current NYPD officials. According to the investigation, the police department monitored and collected information on New Yorkers at about 250 mosques, schools, and businesses throughout the city, simply because of their religion and not because they exhibited suspicious behavior.

Mayor Bloomberg, the extent of these civil rights violations is astonishing, yet instead of calling for accountability and the rule of law, you have thus far defended the NYPD’s misconduct. We, on the other hand, believe that such measures threaten the rights of all Americans, and deepen mistrust between our communities and law enforcement. We are not alone in our belief. Many New Yorkers continue to express a variety of concerns centered on a lack of law enforcement accountability in our city, from stop and frisk procedures in African American and Spanish-speaking communities, to the tactics used in the evacuation of Zuccotti Park.

At least 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, have expressed similar concerns about the NYPD and called for the House Judiciary Committee and the Department Of Justice to investigate the surveillance program.

We believe it is unequivocally wrong and fundamentally misguided to invest law enforcement resources in religious or racial profiling, rather than investigating suspicious activity. We wholeheartedly agree with the words of Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), who said:

“I know that public safety must be of the utmost concern to enforcement agencies. I also know that we must not single out a group based solely upon their ethnicity or religion, especially when such actions undermine the sanctity of the Constitution and the security of our homeland.”

We are deeply disturbed that to date we have only heard your words of strong support for these troubling policies and violations of our rights. We are equally disturbed by Commissioner Kelly’s denials of what we know to be true as verified by the leaked documents. We echo the public statement of Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY):

“It is the mayor’s job, I might point out, to ensure that the Police Department, under his command, obeys the laws and respects the rights of all New Yorkers.”

Muslims comprise no less than 10% of the city’s population. As New Yorkers we call on you to safeguard our freedoms through robust and independent oversight of police activities. We seek your clear, unambiguous, public support for the rights and privacy of all New Yorkers, including Muslims; and a condemnation of all policies that profile and target communities and community groups solely based on their religion or the color of their skin. We desire equality and safety for ourselves and our children. Like many other New Yorkers, we are confident that our city would benefit from increased transparency in government, and greater police accountability. We request a meeting at the earliest possible date between yourself and a delegation that we will form to discuss these issues.

As we await your response regarding these issues, we pray that the New Year will usher in a more just and healthy chapter in our relationship with both you and the New York City Police Department.


Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid

Imam, The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood

President, for the Executive Committee,

Islamic Leadership Council of New York

Aisha al-Adawiya

Founder & Chair Emerita, Women In Islam Inc

Faiza N. Ali

Brooklyn Congregations United *

Adem Carroll

Co-Founder, The Muslim Consultative Network (MCN)

Director Muslim Progressive Traditionalist Alliance

Hesham El-Meligy

Founding & Board member, Building Bridges Coalition of Staten Island *

Founding & Board member, NY Neighbors for American Values Coalition *

Ahmed Jamil

Muslim American Society

Habib Joudeh

VP, Arab American Association of NY

Imam Al-Amin A. Latif

Masjid Allahu Akbar

Amir Emeritus, Majlis Ash-Shura

Aliya Latif

Omar T. Mohammedi, Esq

President, Association of Muslim American Lawyers (AMAL)

Professor of Law, Fordham Law School

Megan Putney

Director, Muslim Consultative Network

Zead Ramadan

President, CAIR NY

Dr. Hussam Rimawi

Arab Muslim American Federation

Linda Sarsour

Arab American Association of New York

National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)

Other Concerned New Yorkers In Support of This Letter

(List in Formation)

Association of Muslim American Lawyers (AMAL)

Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ)

Jews Against Islamophobia

NYC Coalition to Stop Islamaphobia

Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC)

The New York Immigration Coalition

Sammer Aboelela

Organizer, New York Community of Muslim Progressives

Fahd Ahmed

Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

Debbie Almontaser

Board Chair, Muslim Consultative Network

Imam Ayub Abdul-Baqi

Tauhid Center for Islamic Development

Chairman, Social Justice Committee,

The Majlis Ash-Shura of Metro NY

Imam Charles Bilal

Masjid Alhamdulillah

The Rev. Chloe Breyer (invitee)

Executive Director, The Interfaith Center of New York *

Elaine Brower

National Steering Committee, World Can’t Wait

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence at the Community of Living Traditions

Alicia Godsberg

Executive Director Peace Action New York State *

Peace Action Fund of New York State

Naomi Paz Greenberg,

New York Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) *

Margaret Hughes

Brooklyn Congregations United

Sally Jones

Downstate Co-Chair, Peace Action New York State *

Rev. Susan Karlson

Minister, the Unitarian Church of Staten Island *

Ramzi Kassem

Director, Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR)

Imam Abdul-Azim Khan

Masjid Omar bin Abdul-Aziz

Imam Ashrafuz Zaman Khan

President, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) NewYork

Rabbi Ellen Lippman

Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, Brooklyn*

Loretta Lucas, Brooklyn Congregations United

Children of Abraham Peace Walk

Rev. Tom Martinez

United Church of Christ

Saman Naquvi

Islamic Information Center (NY/NJ Chapter)

Robina Niaz

Executive Director Turning Point for Women & Families

Rosemarie Pace

Queens Interfaith Coalition, Flushing Interfaith Council

Betsy Palmieri,

Executive Director, Hudson Valley Community Coalition (invitee)

Charlotte Phillips, M.D.

Chairperson, Brooklyn For Peace

Yusuf Ramadan

Resident Imam Masjid Nuriddin/Corona,NY

Annie Rawlings

M.Div. Director of Outreach and Program Administration, The Interfaith Center of New York *


Reverend David Rommereim, Lutheran Church of Good Shepherd
Professor Asha A. Samad
SAFRAD Somali Association

Dr. Diane Steinman (invitee)

The Rev. Charles H. Straut, Jr., DMin Consultant in Ministry

Jeanne Theoharis

Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College

Shaikh Ubaid

Muslim Peace Coalition

Imam Siraj Wahhaj

Masjid At-Taqwa

Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, LCSW

Rabbi Michael Weisser

Free Synagogue of Flushing (invitee) *

Susan Wilcox, CSJ
A Sister of St. Joseph, Brooklyn, NY

Pastor Khader El Yateem (invitee)

Salam Arabic Lutheran Church

*Refers to “for identification purposes