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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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Filed under: Muslim • TV-CNN Newsroom

soundoff (677 Responses)
  1. Big Bob

    The point I'm trying to make bigbob is smart is: what have they done lately?

    The west creates to augment their lives. Islam uses that same technology to destroy the creators.

    I know, I know: "It's everyones fault but mine!"

    And Michael? I used India as an example of a country that gleaned something from colonialism.
    Muslim countries don't seem to have done the same. Just more mosques and more muslims.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  2. jimbob22

    anyone know of some good Islamist comedians? Or even a single Islamist humanitarian??

    June 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • niknak

      Actually, there is a roving band of 4 muslim stand up comics going around the country. They were just here in my city about 3 months ago and were interviewed on NPR.
      They were not all that funny, but they were trying.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Jack

      I think they have been executed.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Saleem

      Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show with John Stewart is Muslim. You probably don't watch it because it may shatter your unquestioning faith in Fox News.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  3. Kaddie

    I wish this article said if NYPD was given permission by the owners to put up cameras or not. If the owners said it was fine then this whole lawsuit is completely irrelevant.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  4. MichaEL

    Any religion that forces their people to convert to their religion are terrorists. Isn't it ridiculous how the Muslims want to sue the United States NYPD because they have video surveillance covering them. Something smells fishy here. They have no grounds to sue, especially if it is in a business district. This is the land that was founded on Christianity, and WILL always be.

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

      They oughtta sue over the tax money wasted to post pigs outside of Dunkin Donuts where they would have been for free.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Snow

      quite clear you did not even read our const.itution.. or its first amendment.. But hey, would you like the same surveillance on you? think carefully and answer.. would you like the EXACT same kind of surveillance on you?

      June 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Miami11111

      The USA was founded by intellectuals who were probably Atheists. Suck on that.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • crownme

      most intellectuals are athiests. We would be a far more advanced society is quacks never came up with this crap

      June 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Jack

      @ Snow...Sure they don't like the surveylence but they've failed to separate themselves from the extremists.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  5. Aust

    I am absolutely appalled by most of these comments on this article. I would think that these racist comments would be on the christian science monitor or Fox New's website. Muslims are a religion, not a cult, a terrorist group or anything harmful. There are white muslims, black muslisms, and plenty of asian muslims too. It is wrong for the police, government, or even you who comment to put all these people in one category because of the wrong doings of a couple. That is so ridiculous and sad to see that my fellow Americans are ignorant, rude, and racist. No wonder this country is going to crap. People please go out and get an education about the world, different cultures, and races.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Damo

      Well there's plenty of us that believe "religions" fall under "anything hurtful".

      But for the most part I'm in agreement with you.

      I wouldn't put too much weight on what you see in comment sections though – once a few bad apples get in there and start posting hateful rhetoric, they tend to drive off most people that don't want to see hate speech, so what you end up with isn't a fair representation of the actual readership of the site. It only takes a few people from FOX making it their mission to post on comment sections elsewhere to turn the whole shebang to crap.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Aust

      Good point Damo

      June 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • aggiemara

      Islam is not a race.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  6. Sal

    Like I've said many times before about the American muslims, their allegiance is to that religion of theirs and not to this country! That is why they all have to be profiled and mistrusted. 

    June 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Snow

      how is it any different from an average catholic's allegiance to what their pope says in that (morally) bankrupt independent state of theirs? They are willing to make new laws in our country based on what the dude says in theirs..

      June 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  7. crownme

    Religion is probably the number 1 cause of death in the world. Kick the muslims out? Why not kick all the weak sheep that believe in a ghost out? All religion is a BIG contradiction and perfect example of hipocrisy. However, yes muslims should be watched 😉 Everyone is! Get over it or go back home and chit chat with your cousins and blow up your fellow man

    June 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • crownme

      Sorry, I was just mad. All religious people are not sheep. Most*

      June 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • niknak

      Don't be ashamed dude, religious people are sheep. Why then do they refer to themselves as a flock?
      Religion attracts the sheep, adlemined, low IQ and the creepy. And of couse the charletans that make money off those types of people.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • crownme

      I was waiting on a comment..lol I'm not ashamed.. The rest were forced into it 🙂

      June 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  8. robert

    And we care about this why? Our country has become such a litigious society it's ridiculous.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  9. Big Bob

    Actually, I was trying to make just that point. India managed to benefit from colonialism. So did many far eastern countries.
    Islamic countries? Not so much. But the Saudis hit the jackpot when the US and UK found oil for them!
    $11 trillion later...

    June 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  10. tigrr

    Islamists claim they will be given 1000 virgins by Allah if they kill infidiles. Get real. If a girl isn't gonna touch you here, they're not going to listen to you anywhere else. Also, they claim women are soul-less. If so, then how can a woman give birth to men who do have souls? These folks really need to question what they are being taught.
    Kill an infidel, then you are reborn as an infidel to experience the horrors you had inflicted on other. You can bet on that. There will never be 1000 virgins willing (or stupid enough) to let you in their beds. Joke is on you. You die for some priest, who gets rich and powerful for your crimes and inevitable death.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • jp

      dont forget that god doesn't actually exist in a physical form, he's just in our heads, we have science now, we know that comets don't announce the birth of a new king, we know that when it rains it's not because god has to take a leak....before we understood all that god was the only answer because god was the EASY answer......science is complicated, science takes an extraordinary mind to comprehend.....science answers the how's and what-if's.....religion can only ask why

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

      How is that any different then what christianity promises to their followers about going to heaven.
      The beleif in imaginary creatures and what they will do for you in the "afterworld" is not just limited to muslims.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  11. David Ellis

    I would not want cops showing up at my home, store, place of worship, basically stalking me, so I understand how they feel. Innocent until proven guilty.
    But then I have someone like Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir (commentator above), with a frankly creepy vibe talking about the world wide domination of Islam. I'm sure he means strictly through peaceful means (right?).

    June 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • aggiemara

      Not necessarily David...And just because it would be "peaceful" would you be okay if your former neighborhood became a "Sharia Zone" like what is currently happening in England and in the ZUCs in France? It's peaceful per se, but the intent is not to acculturate but to subjugate.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Saleem

      Oh come on David Ellis.....do you really believe that Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir is a Muslim? Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir is about as Muslim as you are. He is a provocateur and you are gullible.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  12. Mike

    MUSLIMS....stop being 99% of the terrorists in the world, poisoning little girls who want to go to school, "honor" killings of your own relatives etc etc etc ad nauseum...and you might, just might, not get scrutinized by law enforcement. Until then, shut up.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • niknak

      Yeah, because christians have never done anything like muslim terrorists.
      Lets just not talk about McVeigh, or the IRA, or the crusades, or wiping out indian tribes.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • niknak

      Oh yeah, lets never talk of the christian right killing abortion doctors.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • robert

      NikNak, none of the atrocities that you refer to were done in the name of religion. Try again. The honor killings, Acid flung in the faces of women who seek education etc are all done under the blessings of Sharia law – which is a religious mandate associated (unfortunately) with Islam. I'm not saying that I agree with the original poster's views, but your examples are taken out of context and inaccurate.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • niknak

      Really?
      Assasinating the abortion doctors and walking in and shooting nurses was not done in the name of the lord?

      June 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • nutstomper5150

      non-muslims don't do it NOW. that's the point.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • niknak

      You guys still don't understand this has nothing to do with religion.
      It has to do with power.
      The mullahs and their ilk want to stay in power, and they use those tactics just like christianity has used them, to keep themselves in power.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Snow

      There is no arguing that islam is a violent religion.. but that does not mean that your average christianity is any less violent.. have you even read the bible?

      June 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • crownme

      All religions are violant and hateful. If you dont believe in me you go to hell. If you meet someone that dont believe in me, kill them. etc etc etc

      June 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  13. jp

    the muslim community, instead of filing lawsuits, needs to present itself positively, when you have a guy n the streets of new york who runs a mosque holding signs that support jihadists and is saying things to support them, publicly.....the entire group WILL be targeted! it's just that simple

    June 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  14. tigrr

    After the Church of Rome defaced and looted the Great Ancient Library of Alexandris, the Islamists came through and burned the greatest collection of books in the world at that time. They burned books (scrolls) claiming they challenged their beliefs. And if books did not challenge their beliefs, they were burned too, because then they were not necessary. For thousands of years Islamists and other major religions have fought against any new beliefs or discoveries. Stone age religions that have been corrupted by Popes, rabbis, priests, clerics, kings, translators, scribes, and do not necessarily reflect the original writings or teachings of these great Prophets on whom these religions were founded. One should always question what they are taught. God and the universe are ever-changing.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Bunsen Honeydew

      An apocryphal story.

      The Caliph ordered that all the books in the Great Library be burned. When his Vizier pleaded that the Knowledge of the Ancients be preserved for study, the Caliph responded, "Every book in the Library either contradicts the Quran, or is in accordance with the Quran."

      "If it contradicts the Quran, it is blasphemous, and it must be burned.
      And if it is in accordance with the Quran, it is superfluous, and it must be burned."

      June 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  15. Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir

    Islam is the future of America , and the World . Convert to Islam , and know peace . Allah will embrace you in His Loving Arms , as a tender child of His . It is only a matter of time , and Islam will embrace the world . Embrace Islam now , and know that your eternal life is secure in Allah's hands . Islam is the future of America , today .

    June 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • jp

      no its not, tolerance is the future....not misguided beliefs

      June 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Mohammad

      I hope that's a joke because that is not only ironic on so many levels, but also just plain terrifying.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • CnnAfrica

      To...Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir....I can clearly see how STUPID some of the muslims brother like you are now. You all came here in the name of freedom of speech and religion, Now all you're implies is to now impose your voilent religion on American's that allowed you to practice your religion freely here states. You're nothing but a fool of junks....Better go back to where you came from before you see the other side of American's.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Jack

      That's why your days in America are limited.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Dale

      And that is why millions of people are killed throughout history; my God is better than your God and to prove it I will will ether convert you or kill you, your choice. This goes for all religions, and as long has man distorts a religious message to control other men, religion will always be the problem.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • jp

      and i find a country based on religion to be absurd.....it brings nothing but war and suffering to the populus

      June 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • jp

      at least however you are portraying the proper image of islam, it's a shame that many of your brothers don't believe in it the way you do, it is a great shame that many of your brothers around the world are pyschopaths who enjoy killing and like to use religion as a front to allow them to kill.....for all the good islam has done the world in the past millenia it only took 40 years to dismantle the entire image over a bunch of cowardly idiots

      June 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • asdf

      You really aren't helping your case here.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • aggiemara

      Your only hope is in Jesus Christ.

      1. God loves you
      2. Sin separates us from God.
      3. The penalty of Sin is Death.
      4. God sent his Jesus Christ to die for your Sins.
      5. Confess with your mouth and repent of your sins and accept Christ as your Savior.

      I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me. – Jesus Christ.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Saleem

      You guys are all so gullible. Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir is about as Muslim as you all are.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  16. Gary-cuniff

    WHy complain about the police watching and surveilling you unless you have something to hide? Seems like you are getting free protection that the tax players are paying for.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • jp

      the police aren't "protecting" them! they're trying to catch them doing something illegal.....that's not protection

      if you had cia operatives trailing you would you feel safe?? not really because if they consider you to be a threat what makes you think they'll let you out of harms way if that's what happens, they won't save you when someone puts a knife to your back and demands your money....they'll just watch it happen and sigh in relief that they didn't have to do the irsty work themselves

      June 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • niknak

      So it is ok for the governmnet to come and spy on you?
      I bet you would scream bloody murder is anyone tried to spy on you.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Snow

      would YOU like if if police were peeking through your bedroom window as you sleep? geez, try to think once in a while before you spew

      June 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Gary-cuniff

      They can spy on me all they want... its their time they are wasting. If I know i am doing nothing wrong.. I should not care who is watching or following me. I only wish the CIA or police would watch me.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Gary-cuniff

      @ snow. And lets be honest here, no one is peeking in anyones windows. you are just a drama queen.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  17. WHAT?

    Why would you complain about free security unless you have something to hide? As long as they are watching you.. then you have protection.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  18. Fr33th1nk3r

    Instead of blaming the NYPD, why don't they blame their fellow 15 million Muslims for earning them this scrutiny? Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all of the terrorists were Muslims. Why would law enforcement be looking at anyone else? To make an analogy, if the witnesses describe a suspect as being a white male driving a blue pickup, why would we look for a black guy in a red sedan?

    Common sense 101....

    June 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • jp

      *most terrorists are muslims*

      June 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  19. Jack

    Muzlims, read these posts and you might be able to figure how leary we are of you for your indifference to these attacks and non caring of our feelings after the attacks. Your time is limited if you do nothing.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  20. shuffler

    If they are true muslims they are terrorist.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:47 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.