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Muslim Advocates Condemns Baseless Scapegoating of Palestine Activists in Push to Renew Invasive Surveillance Program

A story published in Wired on Tuesday reveals that House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) called for a continuation of warrantless searches of persons in the U.S. based on a politician’s tweet baselessly maligning protests in support of Palestinian lives and human rights. 

“At a private meeting about the reauthorization of a major United States surveillance program late last year, [Chair Turner] presented an image of Americans protesting the war in Gaza while implying possible ties between the protesters and Hamas, an allegation that was used to illustrate why surveillance reforms may prove detrimental to national security,” WIRED reported. 

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) vastly expanded government spying on Black, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (BAMEMSA) communities after 9/11. The FBI has persistently abused this authority to spy on tens of thousands of Americans, including protesters, racial justice activists, 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign, journalists and members of the U.S. Congress—eroding public trust in government institutions. These revelations come amidst bipartisan, bicameral reform efforts which demonstrate that a critical mass of members of Congress support reigning in unchecked executive spy powers. 

“It is shameful and telling that Chairman Turner relied on anti-Palestinian racism and repressive instincts to justify continuing a warrantless spying program that targets and criminalizes Black, Muslim, Arab and other racialized peoples,” said Muslim Advocates Senior Policy Counsel Sumayyah Waheed. “People from all walks of life have faced threats, retaliation and even police violence because they’re calling for the safety and dignity of Palestinians. The fact that they’re being falsely scapegoated to justify retention of a spy tool that targets political protesters highlights why we need to reform Section 702. Senator Schumer should take a stand for the protesters in his state and across the country by supporting bipartisan reforms to close the backdoor search and data broker loopholes, refusing to reauthorize Section 702 in any must-pass legislation and publicly affirming the rights of ceasefire supporters to protest.”


Muslim Advocates is a national social-justice, legal-advocacy, and educational organization that works with and for Muslim and other historically marginalized communities to build community power, fight systemic oppression, and demand shared well-being.