Wed Dec 13 2017, 8:37:29 +03

NYPD finally Disbands Muslim Surveillance Program

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(Washington-AlummahWorld) The New York Police Department of United States of America has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said. The program and NYPD was under severe criticism from local Muslim communities and human rights advocates. Since September 11, 2001 such Muslims surveillance programs believed to be implemented in other non-Muslims countries as well such as UK, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, S. Korea, Japan and China etc.

The decision by the United States of America’s largest police force to shutter the controversial surveillance program said to be represents the first sign that William J. Bratton, the New York Police Department’ s new commissioner, is backing away from some of the post 9/11 intelligence gathering practices of his predecessor. The Police Department’s tactics, which are the subject of two federal lawsuits, drew criticism from civil rights groups. A senior official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation quoted by media as saying they (Police department tactics) harmed national security by sowing mistrust for law enforcement in Muslim communities.

To many American Muslims, the squad, known as the Demographics Unit, was a sign that the police viewed their every action with suspicion. The police mapped communities inside and outside the city, logging where customers in traditional Islamic clothes ate meals and documenting their lunch-counter conversations. “My life was under surveillances, my phone calls, friends meetings, e-mails, SMS or any communication with family members or friends were known to Police. It is a terrible situation, I’m a U.S citizen but I was like a terror suspect all the time”. A young Muslim living in NY’s Manhattan area said. If you are a loyal citizen but your own Police is keeping watch on you as a suspect, is there any room to be proud of that you are an American citizen which guarantee equal civil rights for all? The man asked.

According to media reports the Demographics Unit of NYPD which was renamed the Zone Assessment Unit in recent years, has been largely inactive since Mr. Bratton took over in January, the department’s chief spokesman, Stephen Davis, said . The unit’s detectives were recently reassigned, he said. “Understanding certain local demographics can be a useful factor when assessing the threat information that comes into New York City virtually on a daily basis,” Mr. Davis said. “In the future, we will gather that information, if necessary, through direct contact between the police precincts and the representatives of the communities they serve".

The department’s change in approach comes as the federal government reconsiders and re-evaluates some of its own post 9/11 policies. Although the police department’s surveillance program was far smaller in scope than, say, the bulk data collection by the National Security Agency, a similar recalibration seems to be unfolding.
After years of collecting information, however, the police acknowledged that it never generated a lead. Since The Associated Press published documents describing the program in 2011, Muslims and civil rights groups have called for its closing.

After over a decade surveillances of Muslims communities, Mosques, playgrounds, shops and restaurant, many Muslims still doubt if their trust on Police department can be fully restored. It is not just New York police department but surveillance of Muslims in other major cities of United States is continuing. Ultimately, many Muslims refrain from going to Mosques for the prayers, fearing surveillance cameras and secret police office in ordinary clothing. “Freedom of speech, freedom of beliefs, equal human rights are just good words but their meaning has been changed in America if you are a Muslim or even a friend of Muslims. American Muslims including those living in New York are afraid of growing beards, wearing traditional attire, participating in extracurricular activities, or talking to non-Muslims or even Muslims of other origins. An Indian-American Muslim, resident of Chicago said.