NY Muslim community patrol group faces backlash despite community work

28th Jun 2019

Azba Wahid

Throughout the month of Ramadan, the Muslim Community Patrol and Services (MCPS) , based in Brooklyn, has been patrolling the district and serving the community as a response to the rise of Islamophobic crimes inside and outside of America.

After the Christchurch Mosque attacks in New Zealand, mosques in America and the UK increased security, and Noor Rabah, a co-founder of the group has described the service as ‘a neighbourhood community patrol on steroids.’

The increasing presence of the patrol group’s vehicles and uniforms which bare resonance to the NYPD’s patrol cars is one of the reasons why the group has received backlash from on the internet.

MCPS have defended themselves by maintaining that their work is strictly for the good of the community; comparisons have been drawn to a Jewish Hasidic neighbourhood watch communities called Shomrim, which have been established in the UK and America.

There have also been complaints that community patrol groups can become vigilante groups and in some incidents Shormim members have discriminated against other minority groups.
Most of the online backlash the MCPS has received alludes to the possibility of this kind of action.

However, MCPS has proved to act upon its vows to serve the community, through its Feeding the Homeless programme, which has operated for over 18 weeks, the group has provided 3,500 meals to homeless individuals in New York City.

The group relies completely on volunteers for this programme as well as its neighbourhood watch patrol. Although the MCPS has been welcomed by the Muslim community, there are some reservations. Some individuals believe that the NYPD should be more involved in mosque security programmes. Indeed, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) encouraged mosques in America to increase security during Ramadan.

The ‘CAIR Muslim Community Safety Kit’ instructs mosque leader and organisers to ‘coordinate meetings between representatives of the Muslim community and local, state and national law enforcement agents.’ Despite this, other Muslims do not feel any safer with official police officers at the doors of their mosques. With this said, are patrol groups such as MCPS the solution to bridging the differences between law enforcement and religious and cultural minority groups?

As Islamophobia rises, the question of the security and protection of Muslims around the world becomes increasingly relevant, and the case of the MCPS in Brooklyn’s diverse neighbourhoods sheds light on the lack of protection for Muslims, as well as the concerns around Muslims taking their security into their own hands.

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