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. ruth

    I am sorry if you belong to the muslim race,if in any way America offends you,your country is waiting for you with open arms....if you live here no matter what your race, live by our rules or go back to your country ,I did not ask you to come here...no matter Islam ,muslims,they are taught to hate America from the time they are 3....if you ignore this ...shame on America.......the consequences will be there......

    June 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Daniel

      Not all Muslims are taught to hate America. Yes, some are in radical families, but they're mostly the ones who are over in the Middle East destroying themselves. All the Muslims I know in this country are proud Americans.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  2. Daniel

    Sure, some Muslims have done some horrific things. However, evil is not exclusive to Islam, nor is any religion (or lack thereof) inherently peaceful (maybe with the exception of Hinduism or Jainism). Just some 70 years again, Christian Hitler was killing millions of his own people, while atheist Stalin was doing the same. Further in the past, Muslims and Christians fought, massacring each other as well as promoting anti-Semitism throughout Europe and the Middle East. Again, I'm not defending the terrorists, however I am defending the millions of innocent, peace-loving Muslims who are no different from anyone else, from blind discrimination and hatred.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  3. GodofThunder And RocknRoll

    Patriot Act b1tches, get over it.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  4. just sayin

    One has to wonder what the world would look like without Christians, Communists, Muslims, Mormons and Jews? I bet you it would be wonderful place....sigh

    June 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • GodofThunder And RocknRoll

      How about just without religion in general? 1 thing is for certain, there would've been much less war since that's all we seem to fight about.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • StandupforTruth

      popping pills, meth and personal body mutilation in the name of accessorizing has become the new religion.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  5. deadleg2

    The vast majority of terrorist attacks and attempts against the US over the last decade were in fact committed by fanatic Muslims. There's just no getting around that fact. Sure we had a few homegrown terrorist attacks by people like Timothy McVeigh, but those were the distinct minority.

    NYC (and any other place in the US) not only has the right, but the obligation to do what it has to do prevent more terrorist attacks that will surely occur. The Muslim fanatics themselves are not shy about their plans to kill Americans.

    We're also moving closer and closer to allowing the imposition of Sharia law in some places, with all of it's barbaric customs, and that would end America as we've always known it. It's terrible these steps are necessary to prevent terrorism, but we still must take them.

    If we want to survive as a nation.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  6. Jack

    I am at the front lines and will be here to defend this country against Islam getting a foothold here. Until they clearly show us there's a separation of the so- called moderates I don't trust them and they will be treated as a terrorist from me.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • godoflunaticscreation

      Glad you are fighting for our right to a separation of Church and State. All religious terrorists need to understand that this is not their home, Muslim, Christian or Jewish.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • asdf

      Lol "I am at the front lines" of complaining about something on the internet. What a hero.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Abdullah

      Just curious, Have you ever studied about ISLAM? Had you ever read the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)? Have you ever read QURAN or have thought to read it?
      The thing I like about american is that, they are great readers. They read a lot and I really like it and I think none other nation would be doing it what americans do.
      If you havn't read about ISLAM or QURAN or Life of Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, I will request you to please read it Please Please read it. Then you have complete rights to post comment or say against Islam as well.



      June 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Jack

      @ Abdullah... I'm not looking for a religion but I understand enought to see what's happening around the world as a whole. Your image is very tarnished. I shouldn't have to study to understand your religion. You came here and should learn to understand us. If someone has a hobby and It interferes in my daily life I shouldn't have to go study his hobby so I can deal with it. If what you do doesn't harm or threaten me then I have no problem with what you do but your religion or in the name of your religion we were attacked and many in the world are being attacked. We had no Idea who you were or even cared until that time. it's your job to make us feel comfortable about you. We don't dislike or distrust you for religios reasons. we don't trust you because we were attcaked by something that you're member of and support.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • godoflunaticscreation

      Jack is well versed in the religion of Native Americans.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Michael J.

      I really hope Muslims take over your school, neighborhood, church, store, and anywhere else you live. That should put you in your place.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  7. Robin Foster

    They're rude to muslims and called them the "n" word. That's sad. I don't get it.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  8. cris

    not angry Mr. piece of meat ..... Give me back my visa ... I do not want to marry by ineteres please please please con todo respeto ..... a su clon

    June 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  9. irock

    The only reason they are here is to ruin our country like they have thiers. They hate the west, It`s written in all their books and bred into each one of their offspring. Our PC ness is going to be our doom. They are here and it has started.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  10. T Ahmed

    I am a Pakistani-American Muslim and I think that these NY muslims making a huge issue out of surveillance are like the boy who cried wolf. In fact, given the aggressive behavior of "fervent muslims" in mosques and muslim sunday schools before 9/11, I am glad these "fervent muslims" are now afraid that they are being watched: after 9/11 there has been a distinct toning down in their negative, hypocritical rhetoric. In Pakistan, these "fervent muslims" were bolstered by military dictators for their own purposes and appeased by supposedly "secular" elected leaders like Bhutto, and in return they have brought Pakistan with its fine, decent people to its knees and brought Islam (whose mask they wear, but whose spirit of tolerance they shamelessly violate) a bad name worldwide. So keep these "fervent muslims" honest, NYPD!! These "fervent muslims" will all go to hell. Inshallah.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • edsr of Dallas

      Thank you....you are a decent and religious person and I admire and respect your answer.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • VRage13

      Who needs to be watched. What better way to divert attention away from yourself than point the finger at someone else?

      June 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • T Ahmed

      Thanks for your kind words Edsr.

      Vrage: so, you think i wrote this to draw attention away from myself? thanks for reminding me that muslims do not have a monopoly on idiots.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • deadleg2

      Hello T Ahmed,

      I also want to thank you for speaking the truth about the fanatics in your religion, and for your condemnation of them. I speak with people in the ME most days, and I know a few who (secretly) agree with you, and want to rid their countries of the fanatics.

      I keep very informed of the news daily, and my own personal belief is there are many more who believe as you do among Muslims than there are fanatics.

      But because of two things, Islam is perceived so negatively in many countries. One of them is that the fanatics are loud, and commit very visible mass murder, thus drawing attention to the radical side of Islam, the other is because not enough people like you come out against them when attacks occur.

      I'm pretty sure I can understand why Muslims would want to keep a low profile after such attacks, they're naturally worried about being targets either of law enforcement or by the radicals.
      I'd strongly suggest that those peaceful Muslims demonstrate loudly against the radicals in large numbers. This would show people that not all Muslims are radicals.

      Unless and until that happens, opinions and beliefs will not change.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Bo

      Are you stealing something? Are you killing, or planning to kill somebody? Are you planning to overthrow the government? Are you ashamed of what you are doing? If you are doing nothing wrong—,why worry about it?
      And before you say, “How would you like to be watched all the time”, the fact is: every time you go shopping you are being watched, everybody is. If you have a job, you may even be watched by your boss. Have you ever heard of “security cameras? Is that a violation of your “civil” rights also? And, by the way, sometimes criminals are caught by being watched.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  11. irock

    I vote we run everyone of them into the sea.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  12. asdf

    You guys outta be ashamed of yourselves! There are 2 BILLION Muslims in the world, and not every one of them is out to get you or take over our country. Seems pretty egotistical if you ask me. Hell – most of the ones who ARE out to get you really only want us to stay out of their business in the Middle East!

    As much as you would love to characterize them all as Sharia-law loving terrorists, several largely Muslim countries have already voted in female prime ministers. What does that say about US??

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

      Then start protests akin to the ones that protest cartoons. Start a reval reformation in Islam like Irsad Manji. At least she is willing to recognize the violent texts that justify Islamic violence. What about you? Defend Islam but I bet you internally know we are right.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • asdf

      oughtta* edit fail.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Jack

      They attack each other all the time. They can't even get along with themselves

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

      Look – a lot of Islam is pretty backward, granted. My point was only that you can't pigeonhole close to 1/3 of the worlds population in such specific terms. There are a zillion Muslims out there who are progressive, don't care about Israel, have no problem with the US, aren't trying to convert everyone, etc. Especially out of those in the US, this is true.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • godoflunaticscreation

      They need to round up these religious terrorists (Christian, Muslim and Jewish) and lock them up indefinitely.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  13. John

    If your "mosques" or "churches" or whatever facade you hide in launders money and then funnels it to terrorist countries, why shouldn't you be monitored?

    June 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • asdf

      Better round up those Irish then.

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

      And, I should add, also round up Rep. Peter King (R-NY) – he gave to an Irish church for the sole purpose of funneling cash back to Northern Ireland and admitted as much. This is the guy leading the charge against Muslims, mind you.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  14. godoflunaticscreation

    I hope they are keeping tabs or trying to entrap Christians as well. We have our own Christian terrorists in this country. They bomb abortion clinics and shoot Doctors in churches.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • biach

      good god your a fool........part of the problem.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • godoflunaticscreation

      Sure thing...biatch. Go drink your zombie Christ blood and lay your hands on an altar boy.

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

      Are you a terrorist sympathizer?

      June 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • godoflunaticscreation

      Also it's You're not your, you illiterate. Corrected by a "fool".

      June 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Lance

      You have got to be a stupid backwards ass liberal!!!

      June 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • godoflunaticscreation

      He probably is. Can't even spell.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  15. Egbert2000

    If we do not protect the rights of fellow Americans, who will defend ours?

    June 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  16. Josh

    All terrorists are muslims ?? Thats because if anyone else does anything that would require them to be labeled a terrorist they are pronounced insane or sick or whatever just so they are not a terrorist. Terrorist is a term thats just for muslims that commit acts of terror. I am an american and I am a muslim but it sickens me that my entire religious is attacked due to the attacks of a few who by their actions alone prove that they are not muslim and have nothing to do with Islam. Because if anyone on here ever read the Quran they would know that is against our religion to kill your self or anyone else other then to defend your life and the lives of your family. Complete bs on everyone for believing and spreading hate that they hear from someone else. My advice educate your self before you go and make such claims.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Aust

      I agree Josh. Good comment and goodjob standing up to these people. It's sad that we have people who hate this blatently in America. Education is our problem.

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

      Item 5: "Calls to criminalize “Islamophobia” as a hate crime."

      June 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Are these three religions; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam worshiping the same God?

      Adam 4000 bc
      Noah-flood 2300 bc
      Abraham 2000-1800 bc
      Moses-Judaism 1400-1300 bc
      First 5 books of the Bible collated 500 bc
      Jesus-Christianity 30 ad
      Muhammed-Islam-Quran 600 ad

      June 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Lungile1

      If I am travelling on a subway, and I see somebody who I consider to be very Islamic, perhaps carrying a suitcase, I will get off at the next stop, and wait for the next train. It is simply self-preservation. If I see a black youth running down a street, being chased by a white or Indian, I will assume he has mugged or robbed them. The reason? Experience, or what I am aware happens frequently. You cannot blame people for protecting themselves. In Islamic societies I am sure the same thing happens, but with non-Muslims.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Jack

      Aust...speak for yourself. we have very good reason to not trust that religion. People like Josh don't try to understand our position. they worry about themselves too much. we don't distrust them for being muslim. We don't trust them because we were attcked by them. most of us didn't know anything about muzlims and didn't care. they brought is on themselves for being indefferent after the attcaks. Appologize for yourself. you sound like Obama.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Mark Bernadiner

      Why muslims come to the West:
      Omar Ahmad Co-founder of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): "Those who stay in America should be open to society without melting, keeping Mosques open so anyone can come and learn about Islam. If you choose to live here, you have a responsibility to deliver the message of Islam ... Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of
      scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
      Algerian leader Houari Boumédienne said at the United Nations in 1974:
      “One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.”

      Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris in article “Separation Of Church And State”
      said: “Secularism cannot be a solution for countries with a Muslim majority or even a sizeable minority, for it requires people to replace their God-given beliefs with an entirely different set of man-made beliefs. Separation of religion and state is not an option for Muslims because is requires us to abandon Allah's decree for that of a man.”

      Al-Jazeera’s Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, who is widely hailed as a moderate reformer in the West, said:
      “Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror and victor,” and “the conquest this time will not be by the sword but by preaching and ideology.”

      A Saudi Sheikh, Muhammad bin Abd Al-Rahman Al-‘Arifi, imam of the mosque of King Fahd Defense Academy, said:
      Muslims “will control the land of the Vatican; we will control Rome and introduce Islam in it”
      Also read article “Arab-American author outlines secret 20-year strategy to undermine country” by FROM JOSEPH FARAH'S G2 BULLETIN.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • aggiemara

      Nice, taquiyya. Josh you are trying to deceive about us self-defense in Islam. You know very well that defending Islam is much more than the concept of Self-Defense in the Western World. There is no concept if imminent death. It's just someone "attacking Islam". Read Sura 5:32 and please tell me what it means to do "mischeif in the land". Hint: it's not someone threating your life. Oh, and then read Sura 5:33. It tells you what should be done to someone who does "mischeif in the land."

      June 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • crownme

      lungi – right on brother!

      June 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  17. Jack

    If we had a group of people attcking us and they all happend to have striped skin wouldn't we be leary of people with striped skin. Wouldn't it be prudent to watch that group of people?

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

      "First, they came for the gypsies, and I said nothing..."

      June 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  18. Coop

    This is "Infiltration", the first stage of Muslim takeover.

    Item 5: "Calls to criminalize “Islamophobia” as a hate crime."

    It's no joke. These guys are depending on the liberties our guys have died for.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Miami11111

      Well, I think you should be worried about the fact that we can't say nothing about Israel without being called anti semites. But that's just my opinion, considering Israelis have a great influence on our foreign policy.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Jack

      People like you that have a clue will be chastised for having foresight. I can clearly see the big picture with this religion. they aren't to be trusted.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Mark Bernadiner

      Miami: Muslims came in US to convert the democratic system into sharia law and either convert infidel into muslim, or kill them, as history shows and koran demands.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  19. mike

    Why are muslims even interested in being in the states? Is it because their shiria law is too harsh, then why co opt our country?

    June 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  20. Wrong!

    Atheists are wrong

    Case closed!

    June 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • crownme

      Thats about all religious people can say about people that dont believe in a higher power. YOUR JUST WRONG! lol

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

      Religious people are wrong (and creepy).

      Case closed!

      June 6, 2012 at 4:10 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.