American Muslims have said they are concerned about a recent discovery that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has used discriminatory surveillance methods, which they claim unfairly target the Muslim community and the Shi’a Muslim community in particular.
The Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, said it is asking New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to immediately investigate and put an end to the police department’s discriminatory activities, and is steadily working through the ISNA-convened Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign to develop an effective response.
“ISNA believes strongly in supporting the establishment of trainings and strategies by law enforcement agencies that protect our communities; however, it is unacceptable for such tactics to unfairly discriminate against and target a particular minority group,” said ISNA Secretary General Safaa Zarzour.
On February 2, the Associated Press released a 2006 NYPD Intelligence Strategy Report they obtained, entitled “US-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City.” The confidential document presents a profile of New York City’s Shi’a communities and makes broad-based allegations about each communities’ political leanings and terrorist affiliations.
It further recommends that the department “expand and focus intelligence collection at Shi’a mosques” as a whole. Such actions wholly violate the civil rights of the American Muslim community, as guaranteed by the Constitution, and should be investigated at once.
This incident comes shortly after documents released under a Freedom of Information Law revealed that the highly discriminatory film The Third Jihad was shown to 1,489 officers as part of a counter-terrorism training.
In August, the Associated Press revealed that senior CIA officials working with the NYPD “put entire communities under the microscope based on ethnicity rather allegations of wrongdoing” and “may have stretched the bounds of how the CIA is legally allowed to operate in the United States.”
The NYPD’s guidelines expressly prohibit it from conducting investigations on the basis of religion, according to ISNA, which noted that “Mayor Bloomberg has been a strong voice who stands against discrimination and bigotry targeted at Muslims and we hope he will remain consistent in this case as well.”