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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. Tired of Christian Lies

    I am sick and tired of everyone claiming all muslims are terrorists and nothing happening to stop it. If I called Israel a nation of warmongers i would be accused of spreading Antisemitism. If I point out that christians have more innocent blood on their hands id be accused of spreading lies.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • TDiddy

      ALL muslims are pigs, not terrorists, just pigs...some are terrorists, butALL are pigs...wipe 'em ALL out!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Robert

      considering the fact im not a politicly correct whimp. but I am a christian . I believe the pope has worked hard to destroy the image of Jesus the Christ.. and the Christians. right down to there"" catholic"" crusaders.. not Christian.. and there child molesting preists. Real christians have no need for.. If Christians and jews have blood on there hands? its because they are tired of being run over athiests and the ACLU. and dejeneret violent muslims who only want to spend there time Ranting about christians Zionests and Jews. calling on allah for a so called holy war.. I say. take a laxitive get a job and trash your quran. and go to a shrink. islam is the cancer to the world

      June 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Robert

      the says that when the olive tree (isreal) blossoms. know that the end is near. The geration thats see ISREAL reborn as a nation. will be the generation to see the return of CHRIST

      June 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • alex

      Lets just get out of the middle east and let the jews and muslims wipe themselves like animals.

      June 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      @Robert

      I would nt be too keen on the return of Christ if i was you! Christ will probably come and side with the muslims. you think he is God, which he would find utterly reprehensible as a practicing jew. and the jews want nothing to do with him. only muslims still consider him a Prophet, like people used to when he was on earth.

      June 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  2. Kerry

    There is a reason we have not had a occurrence of 911, Homeland Security is doing their job. I'm not one to question their methods when it means we all sleep more soundly.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  3. sam

    Islam is a cancer that will doom the planet. It does not promote life, only death.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Tired of Christian Lies

      No christianity is the cancer. it tries to market itself as the only peaceful religion. then goes out with the ideal that if they cant convert by book they will convert by sword and gun.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • sam

      True Christians resolve nothing with violence. The Bible teaches tolerance and unity. The term "Christian" is claim ed by many but truly practiced by few.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • readthebook

      Sam, replace Christians with Muslims and Bible with Quran and you have another true statement

      June 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Talia

      This is why us atheists hate organized religion, look at what it does? it only divides all human beings on this planet.. All I truly want for our world is PEACE. That will never happen with Judeo -Christians, islam etc and atheist all fighting with each other.

      June 6, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  4. THETERP

    Check out TV show "Person of Interest", it probably not far from what's really happening. Big Brother is always watching. So what I'm not hiding anything!!!

    June 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Robert

      if muslims would stop going out of there way in this world by getting stupid every where they go with suiside bombings and terorist attacks. and constent threats from them wanting to do these things. all in the name of there insane so called god allah. no one would care to watch them

      June 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  5. Ryan

    you mean no ones treated differently unless their gay.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • mike

      oh please.......get in line my sad friend, as a Native American let me tell you, your demographic is not the lone disenfrancished group...............

      June 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  6. Peter

    Poor AXL Rose! Someone stole his jewelry in Paris. Yep, I am reading the headline on the bottom of the page, 'cause the other "news" I do not care one bit about. As someone said before, if you have nothing to hide, why do you complain then? Pack your bags and go away and please, as an American tax payer I implore you, keep those cameras ROLLING, and don't ever ever turn them off!

    June 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  7. Jack

    "During the 50's people were tracked as Communists and it eventually ended. This is part of that continued program now."

    Not quite, the communists did not have a religious belief that is bent on destruction.

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

      your understanding of this religion is laughably limited. read a book bigot.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Jack

      Ali, all I have to do is read the paper to see what you're up to. We are all watching you. Don't kid yourself

      June 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  8. love them!

    I love the racist hatful comments coming from the CNN readers!! keep'em coming boys.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • TDiddy

      I don't think muslims are a race R e T a R d! and I have never said anything that would fill a hat!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • sam

      I like how some of these posts claim that people that are anti Muslims are racist. Muslim is a belief NOT a race of people. Get educated then post comments.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • GitOutNow

      Keep reading the posts and posting your own stupid comments. It's very entertaining to have rag-heads on here, complaining all the day.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Jack

      Don't forget to read the comments from the muzzies. Of course you may be one

      June 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • alex

      Yea and just go to Foxnews comments and you will get a look of what the right is, all of these comments are from regular americans. Sorry but this is just the way we feel

      June 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  9. TDiddy

    ALL muslims S u C k!!!! They must all be exterminated!

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

      Most Muslim people are very genuine and kind, and dangerous. Who can tell if the Muslim you are talking to has a bomb in the trunk of their car or in the backpack they have on. They all read the same book that tells them to kill the infidel (Non-Muslims)

      June 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  10. proud american

    the beauty here is that in America we can sue for anything we like. These guys can sue and win, but they'll still be watched...glad we all feel the same way though. The American freedom that we all love comes with a cost Muslim friends... You want to be free in America, you will be watched...sorry...go to canada if you don't like it. oh yea... dont let the door hit you on the way out...

    June 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  11. Jack

    "What percentage of domestic terrorism in the last ten years was conducted by American muslims, and what percentage by white males who are not muslim?"

    Why don't you instead look at the percentage of muslims (vs. white men) caught with trying to carry out terror plans in the USA. The NYPD has thwarted several attacks, dufuss.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • sam

      What percentage of terrorist attacks Worldwide have been carried out by Muslims and not white American Non-Muslims?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      what percentage of weapon systems used (on both sides) in wars in the last 100 years are made by muslims?

      June 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  12. THETERP

    We are all being watched more and more everyday with surveillance cameras being installed by the FEDS, States, cities, towns, most businesses and residential homes. It doesn't bother me and if you're doing nothing wrong it shouldn't bother you either. So what you hiding MohamMAD?

    June 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  13. LostinSLC

    During the 50's people were tracked as Communists and it eventually ended. This is part of that continued program now.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • sam

      Communists did not go to other countries and kill people because they did not worship Allah.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      actually communists did go to other countries and supply them with weapon systems and military expertise. cuba!! remember, 50 years ago, your grandpa was sh itting in his pants when he found out communist nukes were just a few hundred miles from his home.

      June 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  14. HereWeGoAgain

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

    June 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  15. Stop

    Needs of the many out weigh the needs of a few. Don't like it...find another country to live in.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • myviewtoo

      Well the needs of the many American Indians me included would like you and yours to leave MY land which you know does belong to us so start packing and go back to your european roots the need of the millions of my people would like the land you stole back

      June 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Dark Lord

      Amen, Brother

      June 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • TDiddy

      Shut up Indian...your people should have fought harder...you lost...we won!!! Go get back into your free truck, drive to your free house, which is trashed, get your check, get your booze and have a nice day!!!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Veteran

      @TDiddy, you're an Idiot!

      June 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  16. LT

    Sue all you want but the surveillance will continue. The Koran teaches that Jews, Christians and any other Non-muslims are infidels and must be eliminated. So we have no way of knowing which Muslims will follow the Koran "literally" and which ones will not. We have no way of knowing which Muslims are acting in Jihad and which ones are not. So, sorry, but the surveillance must continue from now on since 911.

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

      This country belong to Muslim Americans as much as it belong to Christian Americans. Nobody can tell nobody to go back et al. What if I tell Christian Americans to go back to England or Italy or wherever they originated.

      I find most comments here based on profound ignorance, hate, bigotry and prejudice. It might help if you learn something about Islam first. We denounce all acts of violance and terrorism; includng those by religious extremists (including al-qaida, hamas and what not) as well as those sponsored by sovereign states.

      Unfortunately it is many of you who are not willing to condemn the acts of terrorism done from you end; including those done by Israel to Palestinians, and those done by the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or those done through support of many of the illegal regimes in some of the Arab countries such as Saudia and Bahrain. The bigotry stinks.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • ICURPNT

      @Muslim...~America is STILL waiting for all Muslims who believe in peace to step-up against that .0003 percentile who create havoc and mistrust in the world. We do not see it. Inform your brethren of possible cells that thwart peace, and we will begin the trust process. The Koran is total rhetoric. It's peace process ONLY applies to muslims and nobody else. But still muslims kill each other for not being Sunni or Shiite. Don't dare and try to bring another religion into the mix. This is YOUR religion that has an ongoing war with each other. Christians and Jews learned to prosper in peace some time ago. YOURS has yet to begin. It's not bigotry, IT IS FACT.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Veteran

      @ICURPNT, Since you like to preach so much, show me where your facts are coming from? Since you want to condemn all muslims, you can't blame a whole religion for the actions of a few, you have muslims who are firefighters, police officers, serve in the military, etc. Since you have much intelligence, tell me why are those people are not a threat? They're muslims, right? So they're a threat? Its people like you that continue to fill this world with hatred with the stupidity that comes out of your mouth. Rather than be part of a solution, you're a part of an onging problem which is Hatred, think about that.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  17. Jack

    Christians (let alone Muslims) don't have the right to sue in the Middle East, yet here we see the Muslims trying to take advantage of our free democracy. Please go back to milking your goats if you don't like the laws of this country.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  18. DB

    Everyone should look back into History. Check out the 1400's when the Mideast chose to invade western Europe and what had to be done. Next look at the Barbary Priates, where they came from and what they demanded. It is strange that so many religons, Christian, Jewish, and Muslum all come from the same beginning but went such different ways. At one time we were all brothers and now it is brother against brother festered by ignorance and stupidity.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • ICURPNT

      From Constantinople to Armenia, and now America? Keep those Drones coming and the NYPD storming.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  19. Chris Casey

    Muslims should be outraged by the Muslim-initiated violation of the civil rights of the almost 3000 people who were killed in the 911 attack on those people at the World Trade Center, an attack that was conceived to target a specific group of people, citizens of the U.S.– the same people who are now defensively and discreetly trying to insure that such an attack doesn't occur again by trying to detect whether sentiments against the US are turning sour in a community which might, in spite of such sentiments, remain inscrutable and thus potentially hazardous (perhaps in keeping with its own somewhat repressive mores,) under a less proactive policy of protective social investigation.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  20. MP

    Question.

    What percentage of domestic terrorism in the last ten years was conducted by American muslims, and what percentage by white males who are not muslim?

    Just askin . ..

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

      White male domestic terrorists have disparate reasons for for their deeds. Islamic terrorists are all fighting for the same outcome. The eventual global califate. But I doubt you would know that.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • idunno

      "What percentage of domestic terrorism in the last ten years was conducted ... by white males who are not muslim?"

      0%. White men can't be terrorists. When white men terrorize other countries and do the exact same thing terrorists do we call them "Freedom Fighters".

      June 6, 2012 at 2:11 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.