Joint Statement of Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights in Response to NYPD Designating Mosques as Terrorist Organizations

Today, the Associated Press revealed that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has designated entire swaths of Americans as “terrorists” without evidence of wrongdoing, simply because of their faith. This disturbing reminder of the urgent need for police reform in NYC comes on the 50th anniversary of the historic march in Washington DC, where brave and determined Americans convened with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to demand an end to the second-class citizen status of millions of Americans. The revelation that the NYPD has been secretly marking mosques as terrorism organizations, recording sermons in places of worship, and then spying on anyone who enters those mosques is shocking and is yet more evidence that the NYPD is trampling on Americans’ fundamental rights and freedoms. Through its policy, anyone can be labeled a terrorist, spied on, and land in an NYPD file.  The NYPD’s program does active harm to victims of surveillance not only in New York City but beyond.  Our New Jersey clients have been marginalized, stigmatized and intimidated just for participating in daily activities that others take for granted – worshiping at religious services, going to school, attending a meeting of a college student organization, or even dining at a certain restaurant.  And the “public safety benefits” to New Yorkers are a myth.  In more than ten years of conducting this discriminatory program, the NYPD has obtained no leads at all.  NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and the department must stop egregious discriminatory policies that single out individuals simply because of how they pray.

Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights are co-counsel in Hassan v. City of New York, the first lawsuit filed by American Muslims challenging the legality of the NYPD’s discriminatory surveillance program.