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Muslim leaders, Council Dems decry Adams’ firing of NYC hate crimes prevention head

A cadre of local Muslim groups and Democratic Council members fired off a letter to Mayor Adams Wednesday condemning his “disheartening” termination of Hassan Naveed, the former head of City Hall’s hate crimes prevention unit who has said his ouster was the result of faith-based discrimination.

The letter, signed by 17 Council members and 14 mostly Muslim community groups, took particular issue with claims from the mayor and his press office that Naveed was axed last month because he didn’t put “bringing hate crimes down first.”

“To suggest that he prioritized himself over the city’s mission of combating hate crimes against all New Yorkers is not only unfounded, but deeply offensive to those who have worked closely with him, and who he has helped over the years,” read the letter, a copy of which was exclusively obtained by the Daily News.

“Questioning his integrity and character is not just disheartening; it is an affront to everything we stand for as a city.”

Mayor Eric Adams and senior administration officials hold an in-person media availability at City Hall on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Caroline Rubinstein-Willis / Mayoral Photography Office)
Mayor Adams at City Hall on May 14. (Caroline Rubinstein-Willis / Mayoral Photography Office)

Adams’ office didn’t immediately return a request for comment, but the mayor has previously dismissed the notion that Naveed was canned due to his faith.

Last month, the mayor instead suggested Naveed didn’t “live up” to the job, given there has been a recent spike in hate crimes in the city. The Hamas Oct. 7 terror attack in Israel and the war in Gaza that followed have sparked protests and anger across New York.

As of April 14, there had been 96 reported anti-Semitic hate crimes this year, a 45% increase compared with the same time frame in 2023, and nine reported Islamophobic hate crimes, compared with just one in the same span in 2023, NYPD data show.

In responding to Naveed’s discrimination accusation, Adams also noted he has other Muslim employees in his administration.

The signatories on Wednesday’s missive include Brooklyn Councilwoman Shahana Hanif and Manhattan Councilman Yusef Salaam, the chamber’s only two Muslim members.

Among the community groups that signed on to the letter is Majlis Ash-Shura, an umbrella organization representing over 90 local mosques.

That group has a history of supporting Adams that includes inviting him to deliver remarks at its 30th anniversary gala in 2019, when he was Brooklyn borough president. But the group has recently been critical of politicians who aren’t calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war; Adams is among those who haven’t. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as part of the military campaign Israel launched in response Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack.

Assignment- CLOSE RIKERS

City Councilmember Shahana Hanif (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News

Councilmember Shahana Hanif (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

Wednesday’s letter echoed some of Majlis Ash-Shura’s concerns over the tumult in the Middle East, charging there has recently been “a change” in the Adams administration’s “approach with vulnerable communities, raising concerns about fair representation for all New Yorkers.”

Hanif, a frequent Adams critic who co-chairs the Council’s Progressive Caucus, said in an interview that part of the letter is about what she sees as a disregard for Palestinians and Muslims amid the devastation in Gaza.

Naveed declined to comment on the letter to the mayor.

City Council Yusef Salaam is pictured during an entire Council vote and override of Mayor Adams veto of the xe2x80x9cHow Many Stops Actxe2x80x9d Tuesday afternoon Jan. 30, 2024. The bill, which passed the Council last month with overwhelming support from the chamberxe2x80x99s Democratic supermajority, require NYPD officers to log basic information, like race, age and gender, into a department database about every civilian they have an investigative encounter with. Thatxe2x80x99s an expansion of current law, which only requires cops to log information about xe2x80x9cLevel 3xe2x80x9d encounters, in which they stop an individual reasonably suspected of a crime. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)
Councilman Yusef Salaam at City Hall in January. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)

As first reported by The News, Naveed was booted on April 16 from his job as executive director of the Mayor’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. He told The News he wasn’t given a reason for his firing, but that he believes it was the result of his Muslim faith. He also said he has hired an attorney and that he’s in the process of filing a legal claim alleging he was the victim of discrimination.

It’s unclear who’ll replace Naveed, and his former office now only has one staffer.

The letter from the Council members and the community groups argued it’s preposterous for Adams to point blame at Naveed for a hate crime uptick, since his administration has cut funding and staff for the Hate Crimes Prevention Office. The letter also contended City Hall’s treatment of Naveed sets a troubling precedent.

“Despite the presence of a few Muslim members within this administration, using their mere existence as grounds to dismiss legitimate claims of discrimination is unacceptable,” it said. “Publicly singling out an individual like Mr. Naveed and attributing circumstances solely to unsubstantiated performance issues, while disregarding such discrimination claims, sends a chilling message to others and creates a barrier that discourages reporting workplace harassment, hate crimes, discrimination, bullying, and bias incidents without fear of retaliation.”


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