In Brooklyn, New York, an all-volunteer team of Muslim residents have formed a neighborhood patrol squad.
Launched in early 2019, these “Muslim Community Patrols”, or MCP, drive through Brooklyn neighborhoods in what look like official police cruisers with the stated goal of protecting mosques. Its fleet currently consists of two cars but is expected to have five patrol vehicles by the end of the month, with plans to eventually expand citywide. Noor Rabah, vice president of the Muslim Community Patrol, has described the group as “like a neighborhood watch but on steroids.”
The group currently has the support of Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric Adams, and of Brian J. Conroy, the commanding officer of patrol borough Brooklyn South. According to its leaders, the group is self-funded and purchased their uniforms and patrol cars with donations. Its members recently underwent training by police officers from the NYPD’s 72nd precinct, and say they plan to work alongside the police force to bridge the gap between law enforcement and locals.
The organization’s official website displays a quote from the Quran, and states that the patrol group aims to “not only serve as watchmen but, serviceman aiding the youth in our communities by enabling them with resources such as mentorship and career training. Mentors will work side by side, and keep them under their wing to ensure a growing success.”
But many residents have expressed alarm over the group’s presence, including some members of the local Muslim community, who have questioned the need for the patrol. Somia Elrowmeim, a member of the Arab American Association of New York, said of the group, “We don’t want you near our community.”
Other locals are wary of the group’s intentions, suspecting the patrol squad’s real goal is to enforce Sharia law or to target non-Muslim residents of the community. Self-appointed Muslim community patrols have already been formed in countries like Germany and England, with the express goal of enforcing Sharia and attacking passersby whom they perceive as disobeying the religious code of conduct.
On its website, the Muslim Community Patrol describes itself as a “civilian patrol organization established to patrol neighboring communities in order to protect members of the local community from escalating quality-of-life nuisance crimes. The organization’s vision is to promote the safety and well‐being of all residents of the neighboring communities.”
It adds, “The visible presence of the Muslim Community Patrol will act as a deterrent to neighborhood crime. Acting as an extra set of eyes for the NYPD, neighborhoods will be safer than ever.”
Group officials have stated that they do not intend to impose Sharia law, with vice president Rabah telling local reporters, “It’s not about ‘Sharia Law.’ It’s about Muslims taking care of people in our community.” Despite this, many New Yorkers have expressed doubt, understandably alarmed that the group may be more like the “Muslim patrols” overseas than the average neighborhood safety patrol.