Feature

Surveillance: When all Muslims are suspect

The NYPD has put entire Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance in New York and other Northeastern states.

The New York Police Department has apparently decided that “being Muslim equals probable cause,” said Dean Obeidallah in CNN.com. A series of reports in the Associated Press has revealed that the NYPD’s anti-terrorism unit has been spying on Arab-Americans not only in New York but also in New Jersey and other Northeastern states since 2007, “solely predicated on the fact that they are Muslim.” The NYPD put entire neighborhoods under surveillance, photographing people going in and out of mosques, infiltrating organizations of Muslim college students, and eavesdropping where Muslims “eat, shop, and worship.” If the cops had been spying on Christians, or Orthodox Jews, there would be outrage. But since this religious profiling targeted Muslims, “the silence is deafening.” All Americans should be alarmed by this kind of “warrantless surveillance,” said The New York Times in an editorial. If the government can pick out a whole group of people to monitor, the next target could be political activists, or some other religion it deems suspicious.

The NYPD has a duty to protect the people of New York, said Michael A. Walsh in the New York Post. The reality is that “Islamic religiosity” is to blame for almost every terrorist plot against the U.S. In the years since 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, the NYPD’s “proactive self-defense” has foiled several major terrorist plots, including schemes to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge and bomb the subway system. As Mayor Mike Bloomberg noted last month, “To let our guard down would just be an outrage.” As a Muslim, I fully agree, said Asra Q. Nomani in TheDailyBeast.com. Mosques and Islamic organizations are where jihadists often recruit and plot attacks. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing, for example, was the product of a plot hatched by a New Jersey Muslim cleric and members of a Brooklyn mosque. “As Muslims, we should in fact open our doors to the surveillance and help the cops smoke out the criminals in our community.”

You don’t build trust among Muslims by spying on all Muslims, said the Newark, N.J., Star-­Ledger. In fact, FBI Special Agent Michael Ward is now saying that the NYPD’s clumsy surveillance has spooked a New Jersey network of Muslims who were supplying information on suspicious individuals. Now “their trust in law enforcement, carefully cultivated for years, has been shattered.” Even if this operation was legal, which is questionable, it was dumb. “We have lost eyes and ears that have helped keep us safe.”

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