Police in Los Angeles have abandoned a controversial anti-terrorism plan that would have created a compute database of the city’s Muslim population, media here reported Thursday.
Officials with the Los Angeles police department said they had planned to launch the mapping effort to better understand the Muslim community, rather than as a form of profiling or targeting those who practice Islam.
But after the program met widespread opposition, including from Muslim interest groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights organizations, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Wednesday that the plan had been scrapped.
“While I believe the department’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim communities were well-intentioned, the mapping proposal has created a level of fear and apprehension that made it counterproductive,” the LA mayor was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as having told media here.
According to news reports, the LAPD’s counter-terrorism bureau planned to create the database using US census data and other demographic information to pinpoint Muslim communities and then reach out to them through social service agencies.
LA police said they would drop the mapping aspect of the plan but continue efforts to reach out to the Muslim community, in hopes of identifying potential hotbeds of extremism, according to press reports.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was among the groups which slammed program proposed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as biased and inflammatory.
“People are concerned on the purposes this will be used for,” said Sharaf Mowjood of CAIR in a recent statement.
“This mapping project says that Muslims are more prone to violence than any other faith,” he said.
“It is ill-advised and deeply offensive, as well as constitutionally questionable. All this does is generate fear and mistrust and looks like you are trying to gather intelligence based on religion and ethnicity,” Mowjood said.
About one-half million Muslims are said to live in the Los Angeles area, making it the second largest concentration Muslims after New York, according to the Times.