NYPD Spied On Muslims In Newark, Persian Jews On Long Island
In yet another revelation of the scope of the NYPD's surveillance of U.S. citizens throughout the Northeast based on their religion, the AP has obtained secret reports on Muslim communities in Newark, New Jersey, and Suffolk and Nassau Counties in New York. The reports contain photographs of mosques and Muslim-owned businesses, and the names and descriptions of those who worked in them.
Newark's mayor Corey Booker claims to have had no knowledge of the NYPD's actions, which occurred in 2007. "Wow," Booker said upon learning of the surveillance. "This raises a number of concerns. It's just very, very, sobering."
According to the AP, the idea behind creating these reports was to give police at-their-fingertips access to information about Muslim neighborhoods. If police got a tip about an Egyptian terrorist in the area, for instance, they wanted to immediately know where he was likely to find a cheap room to rent, where he might buy his lunch and at what mosque he probably would attend Friday prayers.
But in the process entire ethnic communities were swept under the NYPD's lens.
In Nassau County, enclaves of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Hindu and Sikh Indians were under surveillance. As were "a significant Iranian population…the majority of which are Persian Jews."
And some of the information in the reports is inaccurate, and could have been corrected with a conversation. "We're not trying to hide anything. We are out in the open," the imam of a mosque in Newark that was incorrectly identified as predominately "African-American." "You want to come in? We have an open door policy."
At a press conference yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg stridently defended the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims across state lines and on seemingly innocent upstate whitewater rafting trips, saying, "We have to keep this country safe. This is a dangerous place. Make no mistake about it."
Mayor Booker said that he had begun an investigation into the NYPD's tactics: "We're going to get to the bottom of this." Abdul Kareem Abdullah, an American-born Muslim who owns a cafe in Newark that was on the report said he understood why people could be wary of Muslims, but said the NYPD's methods were not effective. "They just want to keep tabs on us. If they really wanted to understand, they'd come talk to us."