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3 Feb, 2012

Joint Statement Demands End to NY Cops Surveillance of Mosques

Washington, DC (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) www.adc.org – February 2, 2012 — Recent reports indicate that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has been conducting covert surveillance of mosques in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The targeted mosques, highlighted in the secret NYPD document dated May 15, 2006 released by the Associated Press earlier today, are largely focused on the Shi’a Muslim community. The activities of the NYPD have raised grave concerns within the broader Arab American and American Muslim communities and, in this particular instance, among Shi’a Muslims.

Editor’s Comment

This is the full text of a joint statement issued by more  40 US coalition partners calling for immediate action (see list of coalitions below).

The United States is no longer the country it once was. As this drift towards police-state status continues, it will impact on the global standing and image of the US, its business interests across the Islamic world and its ability to attract Muslim visitors. Stories of similar illegal surveillance of Muslim communities and travellers worldwide are just waiting to surface.

If the newly-established Corporation for Travel Promotion thinks the actions of its law enforcement agencies in the interests of “security” will not impact on visitor arrivals, it had better think again. Eleven years after 9/11, the lines between security, fundamental democratic freedoms, the global image of the US and tourism promotion efforts are more blurred than ever.

The confidential 10-page document outlines a systematic plan to investigate ties between local mosques, Iran, and other groups that the NYPD perceives as threats. The report specifically documents efforts by the NYPD to monitor 15 different mosques throughout the Tri-State Area. This is despite the fact that no illegal, or even suspicious activity, has ever been reported at these religious centers. This news comes at the heels of the recent controversy around the training of NYPD officers through racially charged and bigoted videos such as “The Third Jihad.”

Through excessive stop and frisk practices, overzealous surveillance measures, and a complete lack of transparency, the NYPD has blatantly violated civil rights and destroyed the trust necessary for effective policing. Such acts of surveillance undermine trust between the Muslim community and the NYPD. These measures are merely the latest in the well-documented history of NYPD’s targeting of communities of color through discriminatory policing practices.

The NYPD’s use of widespread ethnic, racial, and religious profiling is a threat to all Americans’ constitutional rights and freedoms. This behavior creates distrust and suspicion among all vulnerable communities and sends the message that law enforcement is not accountable for upholding the right of all Americans to be free from unwarranted police scrutiny. The NYPD should be focused on tracking down actual threats, not targeting innocent Americans for invasive investigations and surveillance.

We, a broad coalition of civil liberties, human rights, Muslim, and interfaith organizations, call for the NYPD to acknowledge this wrongdoing, immediately cease all such activities, and create more transparency. Furthermore, we demand an external investigation of the policies and practices employed by law enforcement, the development of an independent oversight mechanism over the NYPD, and the immediate resignation of NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who has demonstrated a complete lack of accountability, total disregard of jurisdictional limitations, and an inability to protect and serve members of his constituency.

Signed,

Al-Awda NY

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Arab Muslim American Federation

Arab American Association of New York

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Black Agenda Report

Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR)

Council on American-Islamic Relations – New York (CAIR-NY)

Council of Shia Professionals

Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM)

Fellowship of Reconciliation USA

Imam-e-Zamana Foundation of North America

Independent Viewpoints

Islamic Circle of North America – New York

Islamic Information Center (IIC)

Jafria Association of North America (JANA)

Jersey City Peace Movement

Labor for Palestine

Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of Greater New York

Middle East Crisis Committee, CT

Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA)

Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC)

Muslim American Society (MAS)

Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY)

Muslim Foundation Inc.

Muslim Law Students Association at Fordham Law School

Muslim Leaders of New York

Muslim Progressive Traditionalist Alliance

Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

Muslims for Peace

New York City Labor Against the War

New York Community of Muslim Progressives

New York Committee to Stop FBI Repression

NJ Labor Against War

NJ State Industrial Union Council

NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia

Pakistan Solidarity Network

Shia Association of North America

Turning Point for Women and Families

United National Antiwar Coalition

Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA)

WESPAC Foundation

World Can’t Wait

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NOTE TO READERS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest grassroots Arab-American civil rights and civil liberties organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk. ADC has a national network of chapters and members in all 50 states.

  • James Ruggia

    Since all churches, mosques and synagogues teach irrationality, I view them as dangerous organizations. I want them watched carefully and I live near many of the targets that they might prey on. Religion & secular democracy are increasingly mutually exclusive & it’s time for rational people to stop coddling angry mythologies that grow more dangerous every day. Tolerance for what others think and believe is one thing, patronizing complacency as silly medieval fairy tales turn normal people crazy, is quite another. We atheists are getting sick of being polite. Yes I’m a New Yorker & I want cops watching religious lunatics for the same reason I want them watching political extremists and organized crime.