Before his speech at the Bronx Chamber of Commerce Irish Heritage Luncheon today former mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke to reporters and he was asked about the NYPD’s controversial surveillance of the Muslim community. Mr. Giuliani defended the police department and said law enforcement agencies shouldn’t stop pursuing potential threats in the Muslim community because of political correctness.
“I have great respect for the Muslim religion and I know it well. I’m one of the few people that’s read the Koran and I have great respect for it, but there is a group of people, they’re bad, they don’t represent Islam, but they represent a distortion of Islam, that are islamic extremists,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Some of these mosques are focal points for attacking and killing us, and if the FBI and the police were to close their eyes to that, they would not be protecting us. And if they take heat from people who think political correctness is more important than safety, I’m sorry about that.”
The police department has come under fire in recent weeks due to a series of reports in the Associated Press documenting the NYPD’s widespread surveillance of Muslim student groups and mosques throughout the metropolitan area. Though Mr. Giuliani defended the department’s decision to aggressively investigate the Muslim community, he took pains to point out not all Muslims are involved in terrorism.
“Look, I was the first one after September 11th to say no one should be blamed on this based on group blame. The Islamic community is just as good, just as important to this city as every other community. They shouldn’t be singled out and they shouldn’t be hurt in any way,” Mr. Giuliani said.
Mr. Giuliani cited the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, which were perpetrated by Nidal Hasan Malik, a Muslim Army major who had previously drew the attention of the FBI for ties to extremists, as an example of a case where excessive political correctness prevented law enforcement from doing the right thing.
“I’m going to explain to you an attack that took place in this country that I believe happened because of political correctness,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Major Hasan attacked and killed people and Major Hasan was a well known Islamic extremist who was promoted to the rank of major in the Army because people were afraid to deal with someone who was an Islamic extremist the way they would anybody else.”
The NYPD’s monitoring of Muslims included forays to New Jersey, which has angered some officials there. Mr. Giuliani said he understood why the NYPD would be concerned with a potential terrorism threat from the Garden State.
“The 1993 attack on the World Trade Center was planed in a mosque in New Jersey. The blind sheik who went to jail for 100 years … that blind sheik was planning to blow up our bridges and our tunnels, he went to jail for 100 years, he came from New Jersey,” Mr. Giuliani said. “All during the time I was mayor, we would consistently arrest people with ties to various mosques in New Jersey, Union City, Newark. Now, I don’t know if the situation’s still the same, it doesn’t surprise me that the New York City Police Department has a great concern with mosques in New Jersey.”
The Associated Press reports on the NYPD’s surveillance of the Muslim community imply the department overstepped their bounds with its spying program. Mr. Giuliani dismissed this idea and said he wasn’t sure whether their reports were “exaggerated.”
“The reality is, the Associated Press, last time I checked, is not a court or a jury. Associated Press doesn’t get to decide whether somebody goes beyond the law or not. In my system of justice that I learned in law school, that gets decided by a judge, a jury, a court,” Mr. Giuliani said. “I don’t know if the AP reports are exaggerated, I don’t know if they’re exaggerated in the name of political correctness. I don’t know if they’re correct. They may be correct, but I certainly wouldn’t make a bad judgment about the best polce department in the country and probably the best police commissioner in the country based on just a report in the newspaper.”