Civil-rights advocates, Muslim groups, and even the Feds have been raining criticism down on the NYPD for its far-ranging surveillance program targeting Muslim students, religious leaders, and businesses. Now, in addition to allegations of pretty precise religious and ethnic profiling, we have some examples of really sloppy religious and ethnic profiling. Two Daily News reporters recently took it upon themselves to fact-check the NYPD’s “Syrian Locations of Concern Report,” obtained by the AP, and found at least five Brooklyn businesses that are not only not Syrian-owned but also not even Muslim-owned.
First, there’s the Sheepshead Bay apparel store owned by a Sephardic Jewish family of Egyptian descent. Then, the Midwood limo service (named after an Israeli city) that may have been Syrian-owned 25 years ago but is now run by Russian Jews.
In Bay Ridge, police targeted a grocery store owned by Palestinians (not Syrians), a deli owned by Lebanese Christians, and a now-closed nightclub called Cleopatra that served alcohol, making it an unlikely hotbed of Muslim radicalism.
Also listed is a bakery on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill actually owned by the Lebanese Catholic Chaloub family, not “a family of Syrian descent called Halaby” as indicated in the report. Granted, the bakery’s name is the Damascus Bread and Pastry Shop and it does sit just a few doors down from a a grocery store that (jackpot!) is actually run by a Syrian Muslim — one who’s lived in New York City for 45 years and, when asked if he would’ve aided any NYPD terrorism investigation, replied “absolutely.”