Friday, October 25, 2013

Stop discriminatory surveillance of Muslims in US: Rights group

Several Sikh, Hindu and South Asian rights groups have asked the US Justice Department to probe the \"discriminatory\" surveillance of Muslims by the New York Police Department, saying such religious profiling unfairly \"stigmatises\" the community members and \"breeds distrust\".

These rights groups, among the nearly 120 advocacy groups, in a 12-page letter to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, have sought the department\'s \'prompt investigation\' into the NYPD\'s \'discriminatory surveillance\' of American Muslim communities.

The groups said the NYPD\'s own documents show that for over a decade the department engaged in \"unlawful religious profiling and suspicionless surveillance of Muslims in New York City (and beyond).

\"In the letter to Acting Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department\'s Civil Rights Division Jocelyn Samuels and Chief of the Special Litigation Section Jonathan Smith, the groups said the surveillance is based on the \"false and unconstitutional\" premise, reflected in the NYPD\'s published \'radicalisation\' theory, that Muslim religious belief, practices, and community engagement are grounds for law enforcement scrutiny.

\"That is a premise rooted in ignorance and bias: it is wrong and unfairly stigmatises Muslims, who are a law-abiding, diverse, and integral part of our nation and New York City,\" the letter said.

The letter was accompanied with various NYPD documents and investigative reports that highlighted how the department used informants to record sermons and spy on Mosques and imams without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing and how the

NYPD\'s unlawful policies and practices caused \'harm\' to Muslims.

The letter said that the NYPD\'s surveillance programme has had far-reaching and \"deeply negative\" effects on Muslims\' constitutional rights by chilling speech and religious practice and harming religious goals and missions.

\"It has frayed the social fabric of Muslim communities by breeding anxiety, distrust, and fear. The NYPD\'s biased policing practices hurt not only Muslims, but all communities who rightfully expect that law enforcement will serve and protect America\'s diverse population equally, without discrimination,\" it added.

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