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7 Jun, 2012

Muslim Advocates Files First Lawsuit By Victims of NYPD Spying Program


(Newark, NJ) – June 6, 2012 – Today, Muslim Advocates filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the New York Police Department challenging its policy of targeting innocent American Muslims for surveillance based on their faith.  It is the first lawsuit by victims of the NYPD’s discriminatory spying program.

The lawsuit, Hassan, et al. v. City of New York, directly challenges the NYPD’s unconstitutional and discriminatory surveillance program on behalf of Muslim community members in the state of New Jersey. The lawsuit seeks an immediate end to the unlawful surveillance as well as the purging of files maintained by the NYPD.

The complaint, which can be downloaded here, has global implications especially for the travel & tourism industry which is being increasingly targetted for security concerns and will soon be facing lawsuits, too. Racial profiling, visa hassles and discrimination against Muslims, and those mistaken for Muslims, has become a norm at many Western diplomatic missions and border checkpoints. Not a single travel, tourism or transportation industry association has had either the courage or the integrity to question it or speak out against it.

As documented by the Associated Press, American Muslims were targeted in New York City, as well as in towns, mosques, businesses, and college campuses throughout the no rtheast, including New Jersey. Records show that the NYPD took copious notes on the details of American Muslims’ daily lives.  Examples of the NYPD spying program include photographing an elementary school for girls, eavesdropping on grocery store patrons, and photographing attendees of Friday prayers as well as their license plates.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are as diverse as the American Muslim community itself: they include a decorated U.S. Army reservist, a small business owner who is also a Vietnam veteran, a Shi’a mosque, college students, and imams.

The plaintiffs are represented by Muslim Advocates and its co-counsel Bhalla & Cho, LLC.  The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and is based on violations of the U.S. Constitution.

Learn more about this historic case, including videos introducing some of the plaintiffs by clicking here.

Read news coverage on this landmark lawsuit at CNNMother JonesCBS News, and the Associated Press.

Read and share an op-ed about the lawsuit by Muslim Advocates executive director Farhana Khera at CNN.

ADC Supports Lawsuit Against NYPD for Muslim Spying Program

Washington, DC (www.adc.org) June 6, 2012 — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today announced their support for a recent lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s well-publicized spying programs on the New York Muslim and Arab communities. The lawsuit against the NYPD-filed by the civil rights group Muslim Advocates- details countless acts of invasive and discriminatory spying authorized by NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and which has also been publicly supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the past.

“American is not safer when we spend valuable law enforcement resources on investigating the innocent multitudes rather than identifying the guilty few,” said Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) in a statement supporting the legal challenge. “This lawsuit is a thoughtful, sensible step toward bringing law enforcement practices back into line with constitutional protections and the standards of good policing.”

In a statement today, ADC Legal Director Abed Ayoub said: “The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) supports the lawsuit filed against the New York Police Department challenging the constitutionality of the well-publicized NYPD spying program against the Muslim and Arab communities in New York. There should be no minority community in America- regardless of race, religion or nationality- who should be targeted and secretly monitored by police departments simply because of their affiliation to a certain minority demographic group.”

ADC Concerned Over Israel’s Denying Americans Entry at Airports – AP Story Says US Citizens Forced to Show Personal Emails to Israeli Officials

Washington, DC (www.adc.org) June 5, 2012 — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today expressed concerns over published reports that Israel has begun to force incoming airline travelers deemed ‘suspicious’ to open personal email accounts for inspection before being allowed entry into the country. ADC has called upon the U.S. State Department to investigate the claims of several American citizens who claim that they were denied entry into Israel after airport authorities forced them to log-in to their personal email accounts for inspection before they were ultimately denied entry into Israel and sent back to the United States.

According to a recent story in the Associated Press (AP), this practice of email inspection at Israeli airports seems to disproportionately target Arab and Muslim travelers and “appears to be aimed at rooting out visitors who have histories of pro-Palestinian activism, and in recent weeks, has led to the expulsion of at least three American women.” The AP story continues to note that Israel has a long history of using ethnic profiling at its airports, and Arab travelers and anyone else seen as a risk are often subjected to intense questioning and invasive inspections, including strip searches.

Finally, the AP story also quotes Haifa University law professor Emanuel Gross who said that forcing international airline travelers to show Israeli officials their personal emails would probably be illegal as well. “In Israel, you need a search warrant to go into somebody’s computer,” Professor Gross told AP in their story. “I’m skeptical that the security guards asked a judge first for a warrant and I’m skeptical that a judge would give it.”

“The recent stories of American citizens being denied entry into Israel after airport authorities demanded to read their personal email accounts is quite a disturbing trend,” said Warren David, president of ADC, in a statement today. “While airport security for any country is an important part of a nation’s well-being, it is somewhat puzzling that a country which says that it is the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ would deny entry to American citizens simply because they do not share their political views.”

CAIR ‘Disappointed’ with Review of NYPD Spying on NJ Muslims

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 5/24/12) ­- The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today said it is “disappointed” with the state attorney general’s apparent approval of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) warrantless surveillance of law-abiding Muslims.

A representative of CAIR-NJ, along with other American Muslim leaders, took part in a meeting this afternoon at Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa’s office in Trenton to discuss concerns about the widespread spying conducted by the NYPD on the Muslim community in New Jersey.

Other government officials participating in the meeting included representatives of the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Among the topics discussed at the meeting were the status of New Jersey’s review of the NYPD spying campaign, a new policy on communication with out-of-state law enforcement agencies and the establishment of a Muslim community outreach committee.

Following a three-month review, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration said the NYPD did not violate New Jersey laws when it conducted surveillance of Muslim businesses, mosques and student groups.

The Associated Press, the news agency that broke the story of the NYPD spying, wrote today: “The findings by Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa, a Christie appointee asked by the governor to look into the spying, mean New Jersey Muslims have no state recourse to stop the New York Police Department from infiltrating student groups, videotaping mosque-goers or collecting their license plate numbers as they pray.”

“The NYPD’s blanket surveillance of every segment of the Muslim community clearly violated the constitutional rights of those who were spied on without evidence or even suspicion of wrongdoing on their part,” said CAIR-NJ Chair Nadia Kahf. “We are disappointed with the outcome of the review conducted by the attorney general’s office and will consider all legal options, including renewed appeals for action by the Department of Justice.”

Kahf noted that CAIR-NJ participated in a similar meeting on the NYPD Muslim spying earlier this year.