(RNS) Muslim American groups are calling for the resignation of New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly after the NYPD showed a documentary, “The Third Jihad,” to more than 1,489 police officers and detectives in 2010.
Muslim groups also say NYPD spokesman Paul Browne should resign for his role in downplaying the film, which critics say unfairly demonizes Islam.
“This controversy has moved beyond an issue of poor judgment in the use of an Islamophobic training film to an issue of the integrity of public officials,” said Cyrus McGoldrick, civil rights manager for the New York office of the Council on American Islamic Relations.
“This situation necessitates their immediate resignations.”
Zahid H. Bukhari, president of the Islamic Circle of North America, blamed Kelly for letting the film be screened on his watch, and called on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg “to either fire Commissioner Kelly or ask for his resignation.”
Newly released NYPD documents show that the film, which includes Kelly as a featured interview, played on a continual loop for between three and 12 months in a police break room.
Browne told reporters last year that the film had been screened a couple of times for a few officers; The New York Times reported on Monday (Jan. 23) that the interview with Kelly was an old interview lifted by the filmmakers.
The filmmakers, however, disputed that account in a statement Wednesday, providing the date and time of the interview, and links to video excerpts of it. Browne and Kelly later acknowledged the interview; Kelly apologized in a written statement on Wednesday for doing the interview.
“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.
On Thursday, Bloomberg told The Associated Press he stood by the two men, but said the police commissioner has work to do in repairing relations with Muslims.
“Anything like this doesn't help credibility, so Ray's got to work at establishing, re-establishing or reinforcing the credibility that he does have,” Bloomberg said.