Muslims in New York City have begun carrying out “community patrols” in Brooklyn with a 2-car fleet that looks almost identical to NYPD vehicles. The New York Times published a glowing article on Sunday about the “Muslim Community Patrol & Services” group, while others label the effort as enforcement of Sharia Law on NYC streets.
Mr. Ali is among the first 30 members of the all-volunteer Muslim Community Patrol & Services that is preparing to operate in neighborhoods in Brooklyn, with a goal of growing its fleet of two cars to five by the end of the month and eventually expanding citywide. The group recently held a training led by off-duty officers from the Police Department’s 72nd Precinct.
“It’s like a neighborhood watch but on steroids,” said Noor Rabah, the group’s 31-year-old vice president who lives in Sunset Park.
As word of the new patrol has begun to spread, the backlash has been swift, even among some members of the Muslim community who have criticized the lack of information, and even questioned the need for the patrol.
Like the Shomrim that patrols largely Hasidic neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Asian Safety Patrol that operates mainly in Sunset Park, the new group — believed to be the first of its kind in the country — hopes to function as extra sets of eyes and ears for the police.
The unarmed civilian patrol will offer translation services — its members are fluent in any of seven languages — explain cultural nuances, report suspicious activity, respond to traffic accidents and even help in searches for the missing. The patrol has the support of Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric L. Adams, and Assistant Chief Brian J. Conroy, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South.
“More than buildings went down in 9/11. Trust between communities went down,” Mr. Adams said. “We are building it back one brick at a time, and this patrol is one of those bricks.”
Leaders said the group is self-funded and used donations to purchase the cars and navy blue uniforms for its members, many of whom are involved with the Muslim Community Center in Sunset Park.
Volunteers plan to work in shifts, watching over arrival and dismissal times at three Islamic schools in Brooklyn and conducting patrols from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., mostly near mosques and bus and subway stops in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, where there are large Muslim populations. It will also link residents to food pantries, mentorship programs and counseling services. It aims to serve anyone who needs help, Mr. Rabah said, not just Muslims.
“Presence is prevention,” Mr. Rabah said. “Just us being around should deter the average criminal mind of doing something to harm another person.”
But in a world where far-right conspiracy theories have inspired terror plots against an Islamic enclave in upstate New York, and a travel ban has blocked residents of predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, nothing, it seems, is that simple.
Organizers said they were prepared for skeptics.
But they did not expect the vitriol unleashed when a photo of their new, double-parked patrol cars on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge turned up Dec. 21 on Facebook, and later on Instagram. The hostility spread after a far-right Canadian website, Rebel Media, posted a snippet on YouTube. The ugly online comments included accusations that the group was a stalking horse for Shariah law, and worse.
Not at all comfortable with this. ‘Muslim Community Patrol’ in NYC, driving cars that look identical to NYPD RMPs.
This looks a lot like Sharia Police. In Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/U5RNy5clc8
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) February 4, 2019
Source: New York Times