By John Knefel, Rolling Stone
Civil liberties groups led by the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition released a new report today detailing the detrimental effects of the NYPD's spying on Muslim communities in recent years. The report, called Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and its Impact on American Muslims, alleges that more than a decade of surveillance of Muslims throughout the Northeast "has chilled constitutionally protected rights -- curtailing religious practice, censoring speech and stunting political organizing." They describe their communities as being under "a pervasive climate of fear and suspicion" that affects "every aspect of individual and community life."
The report combines publicly available documentation about the NYPD's snooping regime -- including the Associated Press' groundbreaking investigations into the department's Demographics Unit -- with original interviews of 57 Muslims in New York City. But the significance of this report reaches far beyond New York's Muslim community -- and even beyond the American Muslim community at large.
The authors have provided a needed rebuttal to the common argument that surveillance isn't a problem if you have nothing to hide, and that spying itself is essentially value-neutral so long as you don't become a target of an investigation. The Muslims interviewed in the report describe a terrifying reality where trust and privacy are virtually impossible, and where lives are severely harmed by spying alone. (Full article)