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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. John

    My way of thinking is that if you aren't doing anything wrong, do let it bother you. Do people really think the government isn't watching any number of us all the time? I'm not doing anything illegal, so I don't care. So what if the NSA might be listening to my phone conversations. I'm not saying anything that would get me arrested. Big deal. Keep watching those towel heads.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  2. 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 3:02 pm |
  3. Gtat

    It's such a joke that we Americans value things like freedom, democracy, and equal rights for all, but the second those beliefs are challenged, we give up our rights and freedoms for the illusion of security the minute those ideals are challenged. Want to know what would take some real courage? When we are challenged by those who don't believe in freedom and equal rights we hold our ground and say we will not give up our rights for the fake illusion of security, and will not become what those who attack us, want us to become. To be a free country sometimes you have to endure the most horrible losses to uphold your ideals. We can't abandon them at the first sign of trouble.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  4. doughnuts

    There is no expectation of privacy in a public setting (like being outside 0n the street). You can be followed, photographed anytime you are in public.

    Quit complaining. You aren't special.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  5. GETOVRURSELF

    If your not doing anything wrong – whats the big deal – they come here and want to continue "their" way of life, go back then. Get here and become so SUE happy and YOUR rights this and that ! Whatever ! Americans rights have totally disappeared to accommodate others – and our safety. Maybe the MASS AMERICANS should stand up for all of OUR rights to be reinstated. I have never heard anything GOOD coming from a mosque. And we cant say GOD in public- our schools even though this country is to be CHRISTIAN – Cant have the 10 commandments posted in front of a courthouse because people were offended. But we have to make special prayer rooms everywhere they are and can take breaks during work numerous times all in the name of religion, while others have to continue to work – the forced changes for THEIR religion is beyond sick. What country are we in any ways? Any means to keep OUR country safe by all means monitor away – again if your doing nothing wrong there shouldn't be an issue. Same reason we all have to be overly scanned at the airports – wasn't because of any other reason then muslim's. 9/11 changed everything and if you don't like our means of security – you are more then welcome to leave.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Gtat

      I'm not doing anything wrong and I don't want the government looking into what I'm doing on a daily basis. They have no business invading people's privacy the way they do.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • robert

      WELL SAID! They can get the hell out

      June 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Jesse

      You're an idiot...

      June 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  6. Proud to be an American

    The first thing required by the Muslim religion is to kill everyone that doesn't follow the Muslim faith. That alone demands that every Muslim in this country be constantly scruitinized as every one is a potential murderer by their very religion. They have the freedom of choice to leave if they dont like it.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • sure

      that's interesting where are your sources? the KKK library?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • robert

      you are right..and "SURE" pick up a koran it goes on and on and on about how as a good muslim you need to convert people to islam and if they wont convert KILL them, they have whole sections about Islams triuimph over the Jews and over the "pervert Christians" , peace loving my ass

      June 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  7. Roth

    What about "americans".....who had been investigated and finally found guilty of terrorism??????? Should they have not been investigated, God knows how many more americans would have die because of them. Same with muslims – In order to keep this country safe nowaday, there is no other choice – BTW...mexicans do arrive to this country ilegally and are no saints either (no one is) but I haven't heard of them involucrated with terrorism agains this nation.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  8. WHATEVER

    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 2:56 pm |
    • Roscoe Chait

      Gee, you're kind of violent. What a surprise? Did your religion teach you that?

      June 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Dyler Turden

      Ah, preaching the religion of peace again, I see. Thanks for confirming the stereotype, you moron.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • robert

      My favorite was a couple years ago when they Pope made some comment about them being violent and by the MILLIONS they marched in the street protesting and buring images of Pope and US flag. The best part was when these people were protesting how about how nonviolent they are they starting issuing statements to kill the Pope....so dumb they cant even see how dumb they look

      June 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Big Bob

      ZZZZZZZZZ!

      June 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  9. PulTab

    Not sure who I despise more. Police, or muslim terrorists.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  10. Honest Citizen

    Sounds like they have something to hide

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

      Or they don't want the police wasting public funds on unwarranted profiling.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • luther

      or ..something to hide.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Michael

      I guess it would be alright to bust into your home then and do a search every week? Oh, and wiretap your phone sounds good too. And....have someone follow you constantly wouldn't hurt either.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  11. Cuban Pete

    Notch another frivolous lawsuit to the long list of useless act by "Muslim-Americans" against the nation that has given them a home. I guess their anti-Christianism knows no bounds.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • reasonable

      castro #fuked-u# and kicked u out? y r u mad at us?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  12. Gtat

    May as well invade the privacy of every American citizen then. Oh wait, they already do that its called the Patriot Act.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  13. Jack

    These people don't even realize that they are part of the grand scheme. They. being members of that religion support and finance the goal of the religion. the flock itself doesn't run this religion. The fundemntalists and the Koran itself guides the direction and agenda of this religion. Behind them are the radicals that come and demand change to accomodate them. Other European contries are at this moment trying to tame the invasion that they are experiencing. The best thing for us is to forbid the start of the base of followers from entering the country. It's just the beginning. My worry is 10 to twenty years from now. Our children are going to have to deal with what we overlooked and failed to stop.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • hahaha

      Ok genius

      June 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • doughnuts

      Sweden is already dealing with it.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  14. Nick

    Sorry, but when the Omish start blowing up buildings and declaring war on the USA, we'll start surveying them. I know the vast majority of Muslims in this country aren't terrorists. Yet you can't deny that many terrorist across this world are. They don't wear identifying marks, they don't come out and say "hey, we're terrorists, so watch us!' We have to do what we have to do to protect this country, that includes Muslims!

    June 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Roscoe Chait

      I think you mean "Amish."

      June 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  15. I'm The Best!

    If your going to follow Muslims, follow Christians too, their book contains a lot of the same hate against people not in their religion. Plus a lot against people within the religion. Just go ahead and monitor all of them

    June 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Nick

      Is that because you've read it entirely? You know everything contained in the Bible? When was the last time a large group of Christians across the world declared war on the USA?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Christians in the US declare war on groups of people, like ga.ys or Muslims, or atheists. In other countries though they are much more brutal to these groups than just trying to pass laws or the occasional beating. The majority of people in prison in the US is even Christian. That tells me, if anyone should be being watched its them.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  16. Mike

    If these are all places open to the public then the police did nothing wrong. They have as much right to attend these places as those they are observing. Just because there are doing some watching while they are there is of no consequence, unless you are the "bad guy."

    June 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  17. F. Javier

    What's next?....Bin Laden's family sues the U.S. Government?

    June 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  18. longtooth

    The 9/11 attack shocked New York and the entire civilized world. You think the NYPD overreacted? You're kidding, right? If tall, blue-eyed blond men declared a holy war on the U.S., who would the cops watch? Tibetans?

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

      No, they'd find out what group the tall blue-eyed blonde was working for and watch them in case there were more extremists in their midsts.... the same way they do with the mafia, militia, (insert name of violent group here).. and the same way they are doing with Muslim. They watch...if they see nothing, they do nothing... if they see a plot, they stop it. End of story.... more power to the NYPD.

      June 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  19. Liinda

    If they don't like it go back home where they have NO RIGHTS, NYC is trying to keep us all safe. Funny, not all Muslims are terrorists but it seems lately all terrorists are Muslims.

    Why do people come to our country and then complain, ithey don't assimilate, and bring their customs to our country, why did they come here in the first place?

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

      "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" Benjamin Franklin

      June 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • comanche

      u need to read your history white lady

      June 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  20. Big Bob

    Sorry Haji and Dorp!

    Just getting my truck chassis up on cinderblocks. My mom done passed away recently. She really loved me and my brother Cletis. Feel better now?

    As an interested observer, I have heard about such muslim miracles. But tell me, if you folks came up with all this swell stuff, how come your home countries, other that the areas subsidized by the west, are such rank, fly clouded sh)tholes?
    And don't say it was colonialism. Do you think India would have a space program without English law and education?
    No, my friends, they were regressive centuries before that. Oh! Got to get back to my pork rinds!

    Idiots!

    June 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Herp Derp

      Hey jackhole... you do realize that there is a difference between Hindus and Muslims, right? If you're going to be a bigot, at least get your facts straight.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Michael

      YIPPEE!!! Another stupid ignorant American who doesn't know that India is mostly Hindu! My sister told me this week about some stupid woman who asked if some people were Indian. She told the woman that yes they were of Indian descent. The woman then replied that she would take her business elsewhere because she was buying "American". ARE YOU FUGGING STUPID!!!! They are American!!! This country has become so xenophobic, racist, and just simply retarded. By the way, I am in the army and i've deployed to Iqaq and Afghanistan and also have been stationed in Germany and been to many more countries in Europe and also Qatar and Kuwait and the ignorance of my fellow Americans is becoming TOO FREAKING MUCH

      June 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • bigbob is smart

      heee hawww, do you think their would be english law or education if the muslims hadn't preserved, translated and improved upon greek work during the dark ages when your ancestor hillbillies were burning books??? do you think india would have needed anything from england if the british hadn't taken over that nation and destroyed it's manufacturing and forced it's economy to be agricultural prop to the british empire?

      btw have you been to dubai? kuwait? amman jordan? beirut? istanbul? qatar?malaysia?

      p.s. the greeks also borrowed and improvised from eyptians, babylonians, mesopo.. etc....

      god i hope you don't have kids

      June 6, 2012 at 3:08 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.