Muslim leaders invited to a breakfast with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have decided to opt out, in protest of the surveillance program targeting Islamic neighborhoods, the Associated Press reported.
Every year the mayor hosts an interfaith breakfast, which is traditionally held at the New York City Public Library on 42nd Street. The breakfast is set to showcase the diversity of New York City during the winter holidays.
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"We felt uncomfortable going to have coffee and doughnuts with the mayor knowing that this civil liberties crisis that's affecting all New Yorkers is not going to be addressed," said Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, president of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York, a group of 35 clerics and their congregations, the AP reported.
The breakfast boycott comes a little over year after Bloomberg supported the city’s Muslim community when he stood up for the proposed mosque and cultural center near the World Trade Center site, the Wall Street Journal reported.
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But earlier this year, the AP found that the NYPD scrutinized more than 250 mosques and Muslim student groups in the years following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The investigation led to more than two dozen Congress members looking into the CIA’s collaboration with the effort, the WSJ reported.
The invited Muslim leaders sent a public letter to Bloomberg, saying they would not attend the breakfast because of “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.” The letter requests a personal meeting with the mayor.
Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly have strongly denied the accusations made by the AP’s investigation, and have said police don’t target Muslims but follow leads, The New York Times reported.
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