Massive Operation Based on Religious Profiling, Not Criminal Activity
New York authorities should fully investigate New York City police for violating religious freedom in their surveillance of Muslim “communities of interest,” Human Rights Watch said today. The New York State Attorney General’s office announced on February 24, 2012, that it would not investigate the police surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods because of unexplained “legal and investigative obstacles.”
A 60-page New York City Police Department report obtained by The Associated Press details a 2007 surveillance operation of Muslims in Long Island and in Newark, New Jersey. Plainclothes officers from the Demographics Unit infiltrated and photographed dozens of areas identified as “locations of concern,” including mosques, Muslim student organizations, and businesses owned or frequented by Muslims. Using this information, the police department built databases showing where Muslims live, pray, buy groceries, and use internet cafes. The report acknowledged that intelligence-gathering efforts went beyond the department’s jurisdiction, and cited no evidence of terrorism or other criminal activity prompting the operation.