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Muslims Sue New York Police over Spying
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - "When a police department turns law-abiding people into suspects because they go to a mosque and not a church or a synagogue, it violates our Constitution's guarantees of equality and religious freedom," Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project, told a press conference cited by Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, June 19.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday, charges that the New York police equates the practice of Islam with suspicious activities.
It calls for ending the New York police surveillance of Muslims and destroying all records compiled by the spying program.
The Associated Press has revealed that the NYPD sent out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track their daily life and monitor mosques as well as Muslim student organizations.
It also revealed that the NYPD intelligence had established so-called Demographics Unit using plainclothes police officers to monitor ethnic groups in the metropolitan region.
The AP also found that the NYPD kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims.
According to the agency, police photographed businesses and eavesdropped at lunch counters and inside grocery stores and pastry shops.
Using this information, the police department built databases showing where Muslims live, pray, buy groceries, and use internet cafes.
The revelations angered US Muslims, who described the police surveillance as a violation of their civil and religious rights.
The debate on the police surveillance has ignited in the past two weeks after revelations that the federal government has secretly collected phone records on a massive scale for years.