New York police defends spying on Muslims

New York police defends spying on Muslims
Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:44:59

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has tried to justify its spying on Muslims after being criticized of illegal espionage and religious profiling.

At the first court date on Thursday, Assistant Corporation Counsel Peter Farrell claimed the NYPD had legitimate reasons to put mosques and Muslim worshippers under surveillance as part of its counterterrorism efforts.

However, American Civil Liberties Union said it already had sufficient legal standing to sue the police department over the case.

US Magistrate Joan Azrack said she would rule at a later date.

The suit was filed in June, alleging that the NYPD undermined free worship by innocent people and asked the court to halt the surveillance.

According to interviews and confidential police documents recently obtained by The Associated Press, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen “terrorism enterprise investigations” into mosques since the 9/11 attacks.

Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise allows police to spy on the imams even without specified evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

The terrorism designation also means that anyone who attends Muslim prayer services is a potential subject of an investigation and surveillance, according to AP report.

“It’s outrageous that an institution of spirituality is being targeted this way,” said Massoud Shadjareh, head of the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London.

The NYPD spying on Muslims was first revealed in 2011. Since then, it is the third legal action against the department’s surveillance programs on Muslims, which according to the lawsuit started after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

The California-based Civil Rights Organization for Muslim Advocates sued the NYPD over its counterterrorism programs in 2012 while in another action earlier this year civil rights lawyers urged a judge to stop the NYPD from watching Muslims in restaurants, bookstores and mosques.