Muslims Sue New York Over Police Surveillance Program
By David Voreacos - Jun 6, 2012 11:18 AM ET
A group of Muslims sued New York City over the police department’s surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey, claiming the program violates their rights to free speech and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
The New York City Police Department singled out Muslims because of their religious beliefs, which cast “an unwarranted shadow of suspicion and stigma” on the plaintiffs, including mosques, student associations and Muslim-owned businesses, according to the complaint filed today in federal court in Newark, New Jersey.
“Each plaintiff has suffered from the stigmatization that results from being singled out for surveillance on the basis of their religious beliefs,” according to the complaint. They sued to affirm that “individuals may not be singled out for intrusive investigation and pervasive surveillance simply because they profess a certain faith.”
The lawsuit follows a series of Associated Press reports that said the police department spied on mosques, businesses and worshipers in Newark and other locations in the state. The disclosures prompted Muslims to ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa for an investigation.
Kate Ahlers, a spokeswoman for New York’s Law Department, said the city is awaiting formal service of the complaint.
“However, we affirm that the surveillance was lawful and was supported by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office,” Ahlers said in a telephone interview.
The case is Hassan v. City of New York, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).
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