a constitutional and human rights blog

The N.Y.P.D.’s Surveillance of Muslims

Recently the Associated Press revealed that a New York Police Department unit spent six years spying on Muslims at mosques, college campuses, Muslim-owned businesses and even outside of its jurisdiction in “New Jersey…and beyond.” The N.Y.P.D.’s “Demographics Unit” targeted Muslims for surveillance based on their religious affiliation, ethnicity, and language rather than credible threats of terrorism or lawbreaking activities.

Many believe that this type of surveillance violates the civil rights of Muslims and is an example of the N.Y.P.D.’s “abuse [of] power.” One would hope that such heavy-handed and unconstitutional surveillance would at least generate leads to terrorism cases; however, this is not the case. According to the Associated Press, a deposition unsealed last Monday reports that the N.Y.P.D.’s sweeping surveillance of Muslims never led to a terrorism investigation.

The N.Y.P.D. seems to equate the words Muslim and terrorist, when perhaps it should be asking why there are so few Muslim terrorists. According to Charles Kurzman in the book The Missing Martyrs:

global Islamist terrorists have succeeded in recruiting fewer than 1 in 15,000 Muslims over the past 25 years, and fewer than 1 in 100,000 since 2001.


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