Prepare New York, a coalition of interfaith organizations comprised of The Interfaith Center of New York, The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, Intersections International and Auburn Seminary was deeply concerned to see yesterday's AP report of NYPD surveillance of Shi'a and other mosques in the New York area. If accurate, this undercuts any constructive outreach that the NYPD has conducted across the Muslim community and the positive, preventative steps that the NYPD has made in terms of its community and clergy liaison work.
We join an array of faith-based and civil liberty organizations, Muslim groups, legal advocates, and concerned citizens of all faiths who are deeply distressed and appalled by the AP report. The NYPD must not cross the line from providing proactive safety measures to spying on its own citizens. It is safe to say that there is no one more interested in making sure that their own communities and houses of worship are free from violent extremism than members of New York and New Jersey's Muslim communities themselves.
All of the Prepare New York organizations have spent decades witnessing the way religiously diverse New Yorkers have been working to make our shared city a better and safer place for all people, and observing the hard challenges faced by the NYPD. We call again on the NYPD to pursue its goals of "courtesy, professionalism, and respect" through steps toward greater accountability and transparency, as well as unbiased education about the diverse communities it serves.
The Rev. Chloe Breyer
The Interfaith Center of New York
Rev. Robert Chase
Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq.
The Center for Interreligious Understanding
Rev. John H. Vaughn
Executive Vice President
Auburn Theological Seminary