June 6th, 2012
12:47 PM ET

Muslims sue over New York police surveillance

By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN

(CNN) - New Jersey Muslims filed a lawsuit against the City of New York on Wednesday, accusing police of using unconstitutional tactics to spy on them in the years after September 11, casting an unwarranted shadow of suspicion on the community.

"The NYPD's program targeted innocent Americans solely based on their religious identity," said Farhana Khera, president and executive director of the legal advocacy group Muslim Advocates, which filed the suit on behalf of the eight plaintiffs.

"That's why we believe it is unlawful and needs to stop," Khera said.

Muslim Advocates says it wants an end to the department's "invasive and discriminatory" surveillance program, which it claims targeted at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools and two Muslim student associations throughout New Jersey. The group also wants all related records from the covert program expunged, according to the complaint.

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According to NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, police were in compliance with overarching counterterrorism efforts and standards.

"I refer you to the New Jersey Attorney General's report and to the fact that NYPD activities in New Jersey were lawful, appropriate, and in keeping with efforts there, in New York, and around the world to prevent terrorists from returning here to kill more New Yorkers," Browne said in e-mail.

In May, after a three-month review, New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa declared that New York police did not violate any laws when they carried out surveillance programs across state lines.

The details of the program emerged in August and included a 60-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, showing NYPD maps of Newark and photographs of Muslims' residences and mosques. There was no statement in the document regarding terrorism or criminal activity.

W. Deen Shareef of the Council of Imams in New Jersey, which is among the plaintiffs, said more people are uncomfortable with coming to the mosque to pray because they feel that they are being watched.

"People are concerned with going about their day-to-day life," Shareef said.

The owners of a Newark halal grocery store, also suing the city, say they lost a lot of regular customers since photographs of the market emerged in the report.

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"It has draped a blanket of suspicion over the Muslim-American community and over the people outside of the community that associate with its members," Shareef said.

Shareef, Khera and the other plaintiffs - including a decorated U.S. Army Reservist and a Rutgers College student - say they hope this lawsuit will help lift that blanket.

"What makes America great is that we don't treat each other differently based on on how someone looks or how someone prays," Khera said.

"The Constitution guarantees that every American can be treated equally under law, and we expect government officials to do the same."

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Muslim • TV-CNN Newsroom

soundoff (677 Responses)
  1. HereWeGoAgain

    This place is full of hateful comments. There is no difference between haters of one religion or the other.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Big Bob

      Try and take a closer look, genius. Your college professors only tell you that the USA is the problem.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  2. Alex

    If they don't like being watched, they are welcome to leave.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  3. maddbearfan

    I can think or 3000 reasons why your being watched.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • mike

      Exactly!! We are all on camera at some point, and if you aren't doing anything subversive, why would you be offended?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  4. Big Bob

    Paul: I agree somewhat, but if you just soak in moral equivalence, you'll never be able so see the face of a true enemy.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  5. Steve

    I think NYC should sue because of all the muslim terrorists that have moved to NYC.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  6. R.

    In response to those that say we should kill all Muslims, expel them from the country, etc. I have two words: First Amendment.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • TZ

      Amend the first amendment if that is a fodder to terrorism.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • jayayseeohbee

      Did you ever think about the fact that if we were to "kill all Muslims" we would be stooping as low as the Nazis or the khmer rouge?

      June 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  7. Paul

    The mafia doesn't like police snoopy on them either, can't get anything done when you are being watched. No one said life, or hidden agendas to overthrow America was going to be easy to pull off.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • MP

      Except, of course, that these are harworking law abiding Americans, not the Mafia. Should all white be under servalience since since so many of the acts of domestic terrorism were conducted by that group?

      June 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • SSampson

      And so – all of these Muslims are trying to overthrow the country??

      Funny – we used to say it was the Blacks – the Jews – The Irish, The British etc etc.....

      Racism indicates a small mind....

      While I am sure there are a bunch of people that want to attack us, I am pretty sure it is a mix of races and ideologies....

      Like McVeigh (one example) and the recent attempt to blow up a bridge in Ohio (all white)

      In fact – there are a whole bunch of white Christians that want to 'attack' this country – be it killing gays, blowing things up or poligamists marrying (raping) 12 year old girls....

      I guess we need to watch EVERYBODY if we want freedom....Free to live confined....

      Generalizations like yours took MY freedom away.... if I hadn't been overseas FIGHTING for our way of life, Maybe I could have stopped the cowards from destroying it over here by listening to right-wng nutjobs... My mistake....

      June 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • TZ

      If a particular religion is instigating terrorism, then the only option a law enforcement agency has is to monitor those who follow that belief. If you do not want to be monitored, disown the community and come to the main stream. Why blaming NYC for doing their job?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  8. Me

    I have an idea. Tell your cousins to stop plotting terror attacks and you wont have to worry. Or pack up your turbins and hit the road...

    June 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • MP

      They have already done that, Dear. And you are aware that most muslims don't wear "turbins", right?

      June 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  9. alf

    Just another Muslim push at the USA in their plan to take us over and make us another Muslim nation....May OUR God halp us!

    June 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  10. Bob Loblaw

    Guess they should pack their bags and get the heck out of the USA. That's the best thing and only option for them. Oh I'm quite sure they have more freedoms in their own countries anyway.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • MP

      Their "own country" is AMERICA. That's the point.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • myviewtoo

      They are in their own country you i di ot why do you whit e people think y;ou own everything please back your f reaking bag and get off m;y native american land

      June 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • luther

      When the muslim community starts to isolate and make examples of the extremist, the natural bias will subside. Instead, as a whole the Muslim community are largely silent – unless of course they feel THEIR rights are being flown into by planes, I meant their rights are being blown up, I mean their rights are being infringed upon.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      how can their "own country" be america?

      – they don't drink alcohol
      – they don't gamble in casinos
      – their women are not allowed to star half naked on TV and cinema
      – when is the last time you saw a muslim por n actress
      – they don't watch adultery glorifying TV
      – they are prohibited from usury based finance

      they are NOT Americans.

      June 7, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  11. Mohammad_al_tahili

    This is really unfair. I have never done anything wrong in my life so I don't deserve to be treated like a criminal. Screw this, I am now supporting fundamentalists. If people think I am a terrorist so be it.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Me

      If the shoe fits...

      June 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • alf

      Do you consider supporting and cheering at the 9/11 bombing not doing anything wrong? Many Muslims here in the USA thought the radicals were great !

      June 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      Unfair? hahahahahhaah
      You're watched and listened to more in other countries than the US. Try Canada or the UK....you can't even squat in the bathroom without a camera on you.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • j

      U my friend is why this nation is all up in arms...Pack your camel and leave

      June 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Elliot

      Go eat some bacon Mohommad. @:-)

      June 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Bob

      Having done nothing wrong...YET..we can only assume you are a member of a sleeper cell. And now you pledge allegiance to the fundamentalists? Interesting.

      By the way, there is a big difference between an islamophobic and a misoislamist. I am of the latter. Google it mohammed

      June 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Islamic Pork

      If you don't like it then f o. btw, shave those dumb beards and take those rags off your heads.

      June 7, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  12. Really?

    The muslims don't like surveillance? All they have to do is STOP supporting terrorism. You will be watched whether you like it or not.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      muslims don't support terrorism. american news and the US government do!

      terrorism does nothing for the average muslim on the street, but it is a gold mine for the government and the news media.

      June 7, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  13. Talibob

    Towel Heads is what Towel Heads do. Keep the camera rolling!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Aaron

      This lawsuit is joke will not go anywhere surveillance ??? LOL seem to forget all the black vans across America kidnapping suspected Muslims taking away any rights even if born in the USA. Thank Bush for that.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  14. Crusader

    Sue the NYDP? Our governments should sue the muslims for the worldwide problems they are creating. I say respond by slapping a 10% muslim tax on everything they do, everything they buy, everywhere they go and giving 50% to Israel to help out their security.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • DB

      Let them have all the free pork they want!

      June 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • ButWHY

      Right...take money from terrorists and give it to terrorists

      June 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • myviewtoo

      screw israel another parasite on the usa back

      June 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  15. Spy-Tronix

    We have all the affordable surveillance you need – http://www.Spy-Tronix.com

    June 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw


      June 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  16. Big Bob

    I distrust this community even more when they apply stealth jihad tactics. I wish people would open their eyes to this problem.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  17. Sunflower

    If you had nothing to hide, this wouldn't even bother you... thus why this worries me greatly....what are they wanting to hide? We are ALL under surveillance everyday... Why do they think they're so special? And they wonder why we don't trust them AT ALL. DUH!!!!

    June 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • TiredOfPaying

      I HATE the 'If you have nothing to hide... ' argument. It makes the assumption that the policy behind the invasion of your privacy is Just and Valid. Sometimes its not... for example WWII Germany required the inspection of your Papers if requested. 'If you had nothing to hide' in that case meant you supported the evil regime. The very act of judging another's life is a Witch Hunt.

      That being said... Islam is Evil and you won't get any objections from me over any 'mistreatment' that Muslims get.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  18. Jonny Jihad

    ALL muslims should be kicked out of this country forever.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Crusader

      Right on brother!

      June 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  19. Alfred

    On average, every American is under surveillance at least 18 times everyday. You don't see me whining about it.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • john

      you aren't as strong-minded as you think you are.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • bloggerbird


      June 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Clint

      Anyone that has ever written anything about Obama has been looked at. Even on these message boards.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Alfred

      Unless you live in a hole in the ground, bloggerbird, its not hard to believe we are being watched that many times in one day. Hell, Im watched even more than that. Just count'em up. Traffic cams, security cams, ip trackers (this is the big one), not to hard to think about.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  20. Reality

    And the safe solution for all concerned especially for our sister and brother Muslims:

    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
    be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    June 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • paul

      A better and even simplier solution is to recognize that Allah, God, Yaweh, Ram, Zeus, Oden, Jupiter, Horus and all the other fictional deities throughout history are just that, fiction, and deal with the fact that life has even more meaning without a malicious overload dangling promises of paradise for a lifetime of slavery to his whims.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Truefax

      Why do you blastphem? Seriously? There really could be an Allah, YHWH, Jesus, Odin, Thor, Zeus, Hera, Apu, Kali, etc.. And it could be waiting for you to die to it can stick hot pokers up your spirtual behind.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Reality

      In fairness: the short version,

      Putting the kibosh/”google” on all religions

      • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      Added details available upon written request.

      A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

      e.g. Taoism

      "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

      Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

      June 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.