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. Huebert

    "So this is how liberty dies; to thunderous applause."

    Senator Amidala

    June 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Cant Believe This

      Isn't it terrifying.. And people just ignore that aspect

      June 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Huebert

      @Can't Believe

      I've never understood why people are so willing to give up their 4th amendment rights.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  2. Red

    I agree.....lets stop watching the Muslims. Let's watch the Polish in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And maybe the Italians in Staten Island. Never know when their cells will be activated. I don't remember either of those neighborhoods dancing in the street on 9/11 like the Muslims on Atlantic avenue in Caroll Gardens Brooklyn did. Hey there's a large Wasp community on Lexington ave. in Manhattan. The police could spy on them.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Salzman

      Not very many people know about the Muslim celebrations in the streets on 9/11. It wasn't aired like it should have been because of fears of retalliation and "racist" cries. Good call!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  3. Yup

    Let the NYPD do what it needs to do, Eyes Over the River....Thank you NY

    June 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  4. Eric

    I agree with you, US Citizen. And my question would be to the columnist Kristina Sgueglia and Anderson Cooper, why do you say that Muslims are unfairly singled out and the % of Muslim terrorists is low? The FBI's Counterterrorism Center writes in their 2011 report:
    "Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities for the third
    consecutive year. More than 5,700 incidents were attributed to Sunni extremists, accounting for nearly
    56 percent of all attacks and about 70 percent of all fatalities. Among this perpetrator group, al-Qa‘ida
    (AQ) and its affiliates were responsible for at least 688 attacks that resulted in almost 2,000 deaths, while the
    Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan conducted over 800 attacks that resulted in nearly 1,900 deaths."

    June 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  5. le_seus

    I am an American that was born in India. I am Hindu. I am as brown if not browner then most muslims. My policy has always been this....search/spy/check me all you want because i have nothing to hide. And if these people had nothing to hide they would not have a problem with being surveyed. A little trouble over my freedoms is worth saving anyone's life. We need to racially profile because it will probably save lives. If i have to be inconvenienced to save a person's life, I am all for that. Again my basic point is that if you have nothing to hide then being detained/searched/surveyed is no biggie. I think this is very reasonable and makes sense.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Big Bob

      Thank you and welcome to the USA. Nobody knows more about the Muslim menace then your people.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  6. Salzman

    I don't care about being watched, mostly because I am not doing anything wrong. If they're not doing anything wrong, then why are they worried about "covert surveillance?"

    If they're just trying to make a point, then someone needs to tell them that they already tried to make a point, that's why they're in this mess.

    Simmer down, go about your business, and live lawfully. Then, you have nothing to worry about.

    Until they die that is, then they will go to hell.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Salzman

      That is according to my religious beliefs by the way. I am told I am allowed to be free to believe what I want in this country. So while it is okay for you Muslims to be here, it is equally okay for me to believe you are all going to burn in hell for what you believe and what you've done. I'm okay with that.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  7. chuckmartel

    just go away muslims. you are not wanted and not needed. life was so much better before you dark age primitives arrived. just go away and/or stay away.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |

      if you think i'm an internet tough guy...then confront me on the street...you talk a lot of crap here about us going away...then go tell a muslim that on the streets...that might just be me..and try doing it to a guy rather being tough on a girl...also...if the NYPD wanna be tough...tell them to come out and watch me in the open instead of hiding behind cameras...so...i'm here to stay..so if you don't like it...come and say that to me...a muslim guy that can destroy your face....

      June 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • typical

      A little note to Whatever. I read your tough guy response. A lot of threats. Seems like that is a typical muslim response to any criticism. Threaten/Kill/Hurt the person that that does the criticism.

      Why do muslims respond that way?

      June 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm |

    Warning to the NYPD...if I ever see you watch me or my family I will beat the crap out of you...and if i ever see someone looking at me in a racist way..you will get the same result...If you wanna continue doing this then everyone shoud be watched...Italias for mob related crap...blacks for drugs and gangs....Mexcans for being illegal...Russians for be the US #1 enemy...i can go on forever here...

    June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • chuckmartel

      enjoy your stay in the hospital, moron.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Salzman

      I am watching you in a racist way right now. Your response is hateful and hostile, therefore you are a threat.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Floss

      No you won't but it's funny to see how you think you are all big and bad behind a computer LOL

      June 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • marie

      They are dumas

      June 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Nizam


      June 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • doughnuts

      Internet Tough Guy. Pathetic.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • snowdogg

      "Warning to the NYPD...if I ever see you watch me or my family I will beat the crap out of you"

      WOW... whatta tough guy!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Salzman

      How does Nizam have all of these CIA and FBI stats? Someone should watch him/her!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Red

      Whatever.....you are a punk. Mommy should have done oral on daddy the day you were conceived. And the Russians are not our enemy....мудак.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  9. Nizam


    June 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Cant Believe This

      Thank you for an actual lesson. Doubt people will actually listen to it.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Reality

      The terror and aggression of Islam via a Partial and Recent and Not So Recent Body Count – some examples

      As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

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

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "

      24) Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:18am EDT

      BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi'ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate.

      The bombing on a Shi'ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country's fractious Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions."

      June 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Reality

      And yes, there have been other atrocities akin to those carried out by Muslims:

      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 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Cant Believe This

      You could make the same list for Christians. Your religion has already created genocide many times over.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Reality

      I am an agnostic.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  10. Jack

    We should run them all off. the religion is designed to take over. Regardless that some are nice people they are pawns of the religion and part of the plan and strategy. they should all leave.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Floss

      So are Catholics but you don't see anyone trying to run them out do you?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Jack

      @ That's a lie and you know it is

      June 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm |

    I understand the legal issue here and i tend to agree with their side, there would have to be an oversight on this and it can only be temporary, you don't want government to have too much control, trust me, i would kick all the muslims out of the country but i'm thinking big picture here, can't just let government watch everything we do without consequences

    June 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  12. Bill

    Why are these Muslims not so outspoken about the lack of freedoms in there homelands. They can't do anything without some religious leader sticking their noses in their personal lives.
    Muslims hate everyone. STOP LYING! Islam is full of HATE! If Islam is so great then why come to America and drink Coca Cola and drive BMW's.
    Poor brainwashed people!

    June 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Roth


      June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Tlegend

      Well, Yeah!!! Thank you NYPD!!!! Seriously !! just a reminder.. we found alot of muslims in NYC, and NJ, trying to bomb something... Always thinking of killing.. you call our country an "Evil"??? why do muslims live here then!!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Samrter than you

      Bill if you believe that you cannot drink coca-cola and drive BMW's anywhere in the world today then you are the one who is brainwashed sir.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Al-Maghrib

      Dear Bill,

      Your logic and argument is completely unfounded.

      Islam is nothing but love, compassion and mercy as practiced by the Muslims. Muslims have issues in their own lands with freedom and liberty not because of Islam, rather because of lack of Islam and trying to mould their laws and customs based on foreign and alien influences. If Islam is practiced in its entirety, it'll eliminate all injustices and liberate everyone, just lke what happened during the times of early Caliphs.

      Drinking Coke and driving BMWs has nothing to do with being a Muslim. Muslims do it here and back home. Who doesn't like Coke & BMWs 😉

      June 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Red

      Samrter......give Syria a try with the BMW.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  13. Julio

    NYPD thank you for keeping us safe! every single day in our own country. You deserved the respect and admiration of every person in New york and America

    June 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  14. AcclaimedMan

    When Islam reacts against something, then it is ALWAYS about protecting "evil" ISLAM. They care for nothing else !!!

    June 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  15. Cant Believe This

    I can't believe the comments I'm reading. If you were being followed every Sunday when you went to church or went out to eat with your family at your favorite restaurant you would feel that your rights as an AMERICAN CITIZEN are being forgotten. This country is supposed to pride itself in allowing its people to follow whatever they believe in. NOT EVERY MUSLIM IS A TERRORIST! These people just want to live their lives like normal people but bigots like you can't allow that. If there is legitimate proof that someone may be inclined to perform a terrorist action go right ahead and investigate but don't generalize an entire religion because of the decision of the a few radicals and assume everyone is a terrorist.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm |

      i agree with you dude, and i can't stand radical muslims

      June 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Dallas

      The Muslims here need to do more to expose and get rid of extremist muslims. They just sit silently and that's dumb. The extemists put ALL of us in danger, including the muslim citizens so they should want to help expose the extremists. I want to live in this country (that I'm from!) knowing that I am kept safe and if the good ol muslims don't like it, they can go the heck home!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Americafirst

      If more muslims spoke out against terrorism and I understand why you feel you can't more Americans would give you the benefit of the doubt.This is a real us against them thing and you need to pick a team.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Rena

      Finally someone with reasoning skills who understands what our country was founded on. Too bad people would rather react out of fear and ignorance

      June 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  16. Julio

    Guess where the money will go............if they win the lawsuit?..................................................to support terrorist actions all over the world. If the iman is concerned what the motivati0n will be for this type of investigation, he should pay attention to the news. I'm a proude U.S Army veteran, fought overseas for liberty and oppresion...if you don't like it go back to your place.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Huebert

      I'm worried about Mexican cartels smuggling drugs and people over the border. How about we get police surveillance on all Hispanics and anyone of Hispanic origin, or anyone who associates with persons of Hispanic origin. Forget their civil rights, after all they chose to come here if they don't like it they are free to go back to their own country.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  17. emma

    Are police supposed to ignore tips, real or not? The US is right to put safety: an investigation is just that, it's not a conviction or a sentencing.
    Get over yourselves: you chose to come to the US so live with it. You can always go back.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Julio

      well said!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  18. GitOutNow

    Isn't this the kettle calling the pot black.

    We're being watched even more today, with less freedoms, BECAUSE OF the fracking muslims. Maybe when they all leave OUR homeland, we can live in peace in OUR country.

    Git out! We don't want you here.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Cant Believe This

      This place was founded on immigrants and you want people to just leave because they don't follow your religious ideal? Go back to Europe where they once persecuted Protestants for not following the Catholic religion. This is pure ignorance

      June 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • scorp

      No, we'll be watched even if all of them leave. They are just an excuse to invade our private lives. govt want more control on our lives and they will find another way to do so.. Muslims are not the problem for that. and no, i am not a Muslim.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • J.W

      How do you know which ones belong and which dont? How do you prevent more US citizens from converting to Islam?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • OK

      OK, then what about you leaving their homeland?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  19. RICH


    June 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  20. US Citizen

    You are judged not only by your own actions in life, but that of those who you share commonalities with. For better or for worse, that is human nature. We don't make the rules on these things.

    When you share a religion with those who identify themselves as "Holy Warriors." Who kill thousands while sacrificing themselves in a "Jihad" or "Holy War." You will be judged accordingly, and its not going to be the type of judgement you want, but their actions under the flag of your religion reflect on all members of that religion. The rest of us are just trying to ensure it doesn't happen again.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Saleem

      I wholeheartedly agree! All Muslims should be judged by the radical few in their midst. Just like all Christians should be judged based on the actions of the KKK, the abortion clinic bombers, Timothy McVeigh, Anders Behring Breivik, and all of the other nutjobs that kill in the name of Christ.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
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About this blog

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.