The video ‘Racial Profiling Experiment' is “a Dramatization of previous events that occurred with us in our traditional clothing while filming in NYC,” the creators of the TrueStoryASA channel wrote in the updated description to the upload.
“This video is not against the NYPD, it's just an example of what we have to go through sometimes when filming in NYC. This is to raise awareness for Racial Profiling,” they added.
In their video Saleh and Akbar argued and nearly fought in front of a police officer, who turned a blind eye to their action as the young men wore casual western outfits.
However, when they reenacted the same scene “just 20 minutes later”, as they claimed, dressed in Muslim clothes, they were immediately stopped by the “cop,” who was quite rude towards the pranksters and searched them.
The original description of the YouTube video, which already gathered over 200,000 views, explained that it was aimed at showing the extent of racial profiling on New York's streets.
“We were filming another video for our channel with our cultural clothing but we kept getting followed by Police. So, we decided to film this social experiment on racial profiling. Too many innocent people get stopped and frisked every day because of what they wear or their skin color. We're against people stereotyping others because of what they wear or what skin color they are. Hope you all can spread the message and help bring an end to this,” it said.
Saleh and Akbar's manager, Bill Kanj, told Huffington Post he was unaware the video was fake until it was “brought to [his] attention,” while the two pranksters themselves were unavailable for comment.
Meanwhile, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is demanding an apology from the duo after it re-tweeted the video on Sunday as an example of discrimination against Muslims in America.
“Muslims are already under the microscope, and to do this just to gain some cheap publicity is totally unacceptable,” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's national communications director, said. “There should be no attempt to justify it; they should just apologize and ask people to forgive them for their irresponsible actions.”
Hooper said that there are concerns that next time a Muslim calls in a hate crime, critics will claim that he or she is just faking it.
However, the director of operations at CAIR's New York branch, Sadyia Khalique, told HuffPost that regardless of the authenticity of the video, Saleh and Akbar, managed to illustrate the real discrimination that Muslims in New York often face at the hands of the NYPD.
Just last week, a Muslim man complained to the organization that an officer singled him out at a subway station for wearing a thobe (a long religious gown), Khalique said.
In 2013, NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk initiative was drastically reformed after a district judge ruled that it led to discrimination against minorities.
The number of stops has deceased since then, but, according to Khalique, Muslims still attract excessive attention from police in the city.
The Muslim community in New York has found itself under intense scrutiny and surveillance by law enforcement since the 9/11 attacks.