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Rights Groups File Lawsuit Challenging NYPD’s Muslim Surveillance Program

Kalia Abiade • Jun 18, 2013

lawsuit announced Tuesday charges that the New York Police Department’s Muslim Surveillance Program has created an unwarranted cloud of suspicion over hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers. It was filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) project of Main Street Legal Services, Inc. at CUNY School of Law on behalf of religious and community leaders, mosques and a charitable organization.

The announcement was made at a press conference attended by New York area Muslim leaders and hundreds of community members.

One of the plaintiffs, Imam Hamid Hassan Raza of Brooklyn’s Masjid Al-Ansar, said Tuesday in response to the surveillance: “I can’t believe this is happening in a country I know and love.”

In March, the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, CLEAR and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund released, “Mapping Muslims,” a report detailing the impact of NYPD’s surveillance program.

Since 2001, the NYPD secretly monitored and mapped the daily lives of Muslims in and around New York. A top police department official admitted in a June 28 deposition that the surveillance program was not based on evidence nor had it produced any leads.

“When a police department turns law-abiding people into suspects because they go to a mosque and not a church or a synagogue, it violates our Constitution’s guarantees of equality and religious freedom,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project. “No one questions that the NYPD has a job to do, but spying on innocent New Yorkers because of their religion is a wrong and ineffective way to do it. We are asking the court to end the NYPD’s unconstitutional religious discrimination.”

Anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer wasted no time weighing in on the lawsuit. On his blog today he wrote:

“The objective of suits like this one is to challenge any and every counter-terror measure except those that retail politically correct fictions about Islam and focus scrutiny more on “right-wing extremists” than on jihadis. And the goal is to clear away all obstacles to jihadis so that they can advance unimpeded.”

The lawsuit is the most recent challenge to the police department’s Intelligence Division. Last year, Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights sued the NYPD over its counterterrorism programs, and Muslim Advocates has since been running a campaign to end NYPD spying.



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