News / USA

American Muslim Report Condemns NYPD Surveillance

Adam Phillips
A coalition of American Muslims delivered  to New York City police headquarters Monday a report that alleges widespread ethnic profiling by the city police department’s counter-terrorism and surveillance programs. The report calls for enhanced legislative and judicial protection from what Muslims allege is unconstitutional spying.

A group of about 40 Muslim Americans representing The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition and other advocacy organizations gathered in downtown Manhattan to formally present a 51-page report called “Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and its Impact on American Muslims.”

Attorney Diala Shammas spearheads a City University of New York project to promote accountability and transparency within the New York City Police Department. She says police surveillance of Muslims has been “extremely invasive” since the September 11, 2001 attacks.   

“We know that they’ve been sending informants into mosques, into places of worship," said Shammas. "They’ve sent informants into Muslim student associations, into club rooms, into whitewater rafting trips, places that the NYPD has no business being.”  

Shammas says no one knows the precise extent of the police surveillance program or its exact methods.

“… but what we do know is that there are undercover officers, but there are also informants who are members of the community who are paid or pressured either through incentives or by taking advantage of their vulnerabilities to go into these communities and to report what they hear," said Shammas.

This became a personal issue for Maryam Said, a student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, when she learned that her university’s Muslim club had been infiltrated by an informant posing as a fellow student and friend.

“And it kind of created a mistrust among the people when they found out," said Said. "Because they thought he was a good friend of theirs. They were like ‘you were a brother. You were our family, we took you in. We were there for you. And you turn around it turns out you were just here watching us and we haven’t done anything wrong.’”

The “Mapping Muslims” report offers several recommendations to counter what it sees as a growing threat to the community’s constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law, freedom of assembly and freedom from discrimination. These include community discussion groups, know-your-rights workshops and other awareness campaigns. Diala Shammas adds that government oversight and protection against excessive surveillance also is crucial.

“It could either be done through the City Council, and there are some pending bills before City Council. If the courts have to intervene - then courts should intervene - to bring oversight to the NYPD. We would like it if it just comes from the NYPD themselves," said Shammas.

Several calls to the New York City Police Department for comment or to rebut the report went unanswered.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs