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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Filed under: Muslim • TV-CNN Newsroom

soundoff (677 Responses)
  1. Burning Whizzer

    Their kind can't be trusted.

    June 7, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  2. doff


    June 7, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  3. happy 9/11

    Guy be nice believe in your religion and let other believe in their religion

    June 7, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  4. why?

    Its not understandable that, Muslims haven't condemned what their own brethren have done to our country!

    Thats what makes it understandable that they be under surveillance!!

    America was hurt much more by your religious followers/leaders. Than any surveillance pain you are enduring from the NYPD!!!

    June 7, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Who are they kidding?

      Well said. I have not seen any protests, marches, mass "sit-ins" after Friday prayers in a large city....nothing done by the "American" Muslim community to condemn radical extremists. Why are the Muslims in America not standing up for "their fellow countrymen" and pubically rejecting the views of extremism on a massive scale.

      Until I see a massive outcry from the Islamic community in America, not only do I think it's ok that Muslims in New Jersey are being watched...I hope the surveillance force is doubled as well as being expanded to every state in the country for that matter. If the Muslims don't like it, we should use the money we are sending to Pakistan to offer fully paid travel expenses to any Muslim in America wishing to leave and go live in an Islamic-dominated country of their choice....where not only will they be watched, but maybe beaten, mutilated, or stoned.

      June 7, 2012 at 2:13 am |
  5. Jack

    Muslims are attempting to use or freedoms and laws against the general American public. If they do not like the use of survallance they have a choice., either deal with it or leave the country. Perhaps some need to have their deportation papers prepared.

    June 7, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  6. why?

    Perhaps MUSLIMS SHOULD condemn the acts of their brethren!!

    In general, mankind has not been capable of far-reaching thought. Study of religious beliefs shows that human beings, with rare exceptions, can only visualize God's immense scheme as an enlarged replica of whatever system they have known in their own petty lives, and can only visualize God's unique nature as similar to their own natures, somewhat superior of course, but subject to essentially the same reactions, emotions, weaknesses, desires, and ambitions. There is an Arabic saying, found in the Hadith and derived ultimately from the Old Testament, that God created man in His own image. It would be closer to the truth to say the opposite, “Men have created God in their own image”.

    June 7, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  7. h8raghds

    why? after so many years of watching beheadings..people getttin caught with shoe bombs..the towers coming down. hell yea i should expect our government to watch the muslims..innocent or not. because we have seen how brutal they can be. this isn't a muslim country. if you don't like big brother watching you..go back to your adobe huts and squat on your knees and hate america. you people don't deserve a second chance in america.

    June 7, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • RepZen

      you people? America was founded on multiculturalism and people of different faiths all working together to build something that everyone in the world was envious of, and it's you people that have destroyed the good name of your country, maybe you people should go crawl back under that rock you people came from.

      You know nothing of the outside world and you have no time for anyone who thinks, looks or acts differently than you, there was another group of people that thought like that to, they were called nazis! You must be so proud to be dragging the good name of America through the dirt.

      June 7, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • why?

      You people?

      . You can't get upset when someone refers to your people as "you people", if you do the same thing!!

      And to ask Americans to crawl under the rock where we came from?
      Im not sure where reference is coming from.
      . You sound as uncompassionate as most believe you are. You're doing absolutely nothing to change anyone's mind about the fear instilled in the American mind from the Muslim, faith. And the Arab people. Its your own people who put you in this situation. You can't blame Americans for feeling a little uneasy now. Can you?

      June 7, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  8. Reality

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means. Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed. Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein. Until then, no Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    June 6, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • RepZen

      I would argue that through out history the bible has caused more deaths and more suffering to innocent peoples than the Koran ever could? Ever hear of something called the inquisition? or maybe the crusades?? millions upon millions tortured and killed all in the name of a book. a book is neither good nor bad, the way someone interprets such a book is. If your going to start Banning religious texts maybe you should start with the most destructive one ever written.

      June 7, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Reality

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:
      M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)

      For comparison: The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..(Religions/Groups involved)*

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Pagans)

      18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      *:" Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?

      A: No, of course not – unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century – Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union – no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion."

      Q: So, what you're saying is that religion has never killed anyone.

      A: Arrgh... You all-or-nothing people drive me crazy. There are many doc-umented examples where members of one religion try to exterminate the members of another religion. Causation is always complex, but if the only difference between two warring groups is religion, then that certainly sounds like a religious conflict to me. Is it the number one cause of mass homicide in human history? No. Of the 22 worst episodes of mass killing, maybe four were primarily religious. Is that a lot? Well, it's more than the number of wars fought over soccer, or s-ex (The Trojan and Sabine Wars don't even make the list.), but less than the number fought over land, money, glory or prestige.

      In my Index, I list 41 religious conflicts compared with 27 oppressions under "Communism", 24 under Colonialism, 2 under "Railroads" and 2 under "Scapegoats". Make of that what you will."

      June 7, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Reality

      Actually, it is the Old Testament that lists the god-approved atrocities: (if there is a god)

      To wit:

      •Exodus 32: 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf.

      •Numbers 31: After killing all men, boys and married women among the Midianites, 32,000 virgins remain as booty for the Israelites. (If unmarried girls are a quarter of the population, then 96,000 people were killed.)

      •Joshua: ◦Joshua 8: 12,000 men and women, all the people of Ai, killed.
      ◦Joshua 10: Joshua completely destroys Gibeon ("larger than Ai"), Makeddah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir. "He left no survivors."
      ◦Joshua 11: Hazor destroyed. [Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1987), estimates the population of Hazor at ?> 50,000]
      ◦TOTAL: if Ai is average, 12,000 x 9 = 108,000 killed.

      •Judges 1: 10,000 Canaanites k. at Battle of Bezek. Jerusalem and Zephath destroyed.
      •Judges 3: ca. 10,000 Moabites k. at Jordan River.
      •Judges 8: 120,000 Midianite soldiers k. by Gideon
      •Judges 20: Benjamin attacked by other tribes. 25,000 killed.

      •1 Samuel 4: 4,000 Isrealites killed at 1st Battle of Ebenezer/Aphek. 30,000 Isr. k. at 2nd battle.
      •David: ◦2 Samuel 8: 22,000 Arameans of Damascus and 18,000 Edomites killed in 2 battles.

      ◦2 Samuel 10: 40,000 Aramean footsoldiers and 7,000 charioteers killed at Helam.
      ◦2 Samuel 18: 20,000 Israelites under Absalom killed at Ephraim.

      •1 Kings 20: 100,000 Arameans killed by Israelites at Battle of Aphek. Another 27,000 killed by collapsing wall.
      •2 Chron 13: Judah beat Israel and inflicted 500,000 casualties.
      •2 Chron 25: Amaziah, king of Judah, k. 10,000 from Seir in battle and executed 10,000 POWs. Discharged Judean soldiers pillaged and killed 3,000.
      •2 Chron 28: Pekah, king of Israel, slew 120,000 Judeans

      •TOTAL: That comes to about 1,283,000 mass killings specifically enumerated in the Old Testament/Torah.

      The New Testament has only one major atrocity, that of god committing filicide assuming you believe in this Christian mumbo jumbo. Said atrocity should be enough to vitiate all of Christianity.

      June 7, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  9. Leave NYPD Alone

    You leave NYPD alone. They aren't bothering you. Find something else to do.

    June 6, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  10. William

    Muslims complaining? A bit rich, in my opinion. Since the events of 9/11 not many of their "world leaders" came out with condemnation of the actions of few "bad apples". Or have I missed it? Yes, few did. Here, in Oz, we also have few disgruntled Muslims complaining of their treatment by the law of the land. But majority of the Muslim population here had accepted the fact that their "leaders" had let them down. Oh, sure, there are few incidents of overhanded treatment by the police, but mostly when it's warranted. As our former PM, had said: "If you don't like it, go back to where you came from, if you feel you'd more confortable there. We didn't ask you to come here, you asked us to let you in". End of story, end of argument!

    June 6, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  11. AmericanGunner28

    If they have nothing to hide why the hell are they so upset.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Huh?

      Because regardless if you did anything wrong or not, would you want your personal privacy violated without your consent?

      June 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Roger Rabbit

      They have a lot to hide, that's why they are so upset. Those people all agree to some degree or another with the vile atrocities of their kind, yet they want to be left alone? You look like a duck, you walk like a duck,you quack like a duck, there is a reasonable chance you are a duck. It is common sense to try and make Peking Duck out of it.

      June 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Malavaina

      The only reason is because they have a lot to hide. Mentally, espiritually and morally they are not clean.

      June 6, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  12. 2011cnn2011

    if you quack like a jihad, and look like a jihad,.....your a jihad. go away muslims

    June 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  13. 2011cnn2011

    islam is not a religion, it is s cult, just like nazism. As a matter of fact islam and nazisms ideoligy is the same=anti-semetic...and no im not Jewish...islam should be banned in the US, and worldwide.

    June 6, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Huh?

      With that kind of ignorance, you are the one that sounds like a nazi.

      June 6, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • RepZen

      Huh, it's nice to see someone standing up against all this hysteria for once. you have my respect, I only hope your not put on some terror watch list because of it.

      June 7, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • happy 9/11


      June 7, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  14. 2011cnn2011

    hey muslims....phuck you and your cult.

    June 6, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Huh?

      Curious – what is your religion?

      June 6, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Wrath of Anubus

      Hey religious people...you faith is a joke...all religion is a farce and a cult.

      June 6, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  15. Jay

    If you dont like it then do business in another country. How far would an american go, opening business in Pakistan.......ni where. Deal with or move the hell on.

    June 6, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Huh?

      When your privacy gets violated, will you go away to?

      June 6, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  16. Case closed!

    Case closed!

    June 6, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  17. south4evr

    I the suit doesn't go their way, the NJ muslims will cut off the New york Police Commissioners head!! Allah Akbar!

    June 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • AmericanGunner28

      Da hell you just say?

      June 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  18. Sheldon

    I would agree with the Plaintiffs in this case wholeheartedly. The problem is, however, is that a lot of antiAmerican Muslim groups disguise themselves as moderate, non sectarian organizations. I also think that we need to review our immigration policies as well.

    June 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Huh?

      "Review" them how? Methinks you will be on a slippery slope on that point.

      June 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  19. Dale

    When an American is in a Muslim country their every move is watched, and have to be very careful where you go and what you say.

    June 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • 2011cnn2011

      ban islam

      June 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • RepZen


      June 7, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • james cox

      I agree with you dale. isn't it time the so call good muslims do some or all they can to weed out their bad apples,this is tax money that is used to look for the bad apples. If you don't look you can't find. if you don't appreciate this country you are free to leave and go back to where you come from . if you are one of us, welcome home.if not good bye

      June 7, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  20. kamarasune

    Sorry but the American m uslim community has been weak at best in denouncing the radical political ideology that often accompanies Is lam. I doubt any of them were nearly as inconvenienced as some of our business women have been after traveling to Saudi Arabia or the U.A.E.

    June 6, 2012 at 7:34 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.