The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the New York Police Department over its surveillance of Muslim communities, accusing the police of trampling on religious freedoms and constitutional guarantees of equality.
The surveillance by the NYPD's intelligence division has extended beyond New York City's five boroughs into neighboring New Jersey and other nearby states. The police department says that surveillance of Muslims is legal under an earlier federal court order.
The lawsuit is the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between the NYPD and civil liberties advocates over the department's aggressive policing tactics - including its stop-and-frisk practices, which are the subject of a separate federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, seeks to put an end to the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims, the destruction of all records on individuals created as a result of the program and the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the department.
"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," said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project. She called the NYPD monitoring "suspicionless surveillance" and "religious profiling."...Most American mosques are funded by the Saudis. That fact alone warrants our paying extra-special attention to what's going on in these masjids.