CFI Joins Groups in Urging DOJ to Investigate NYPD’s Surveillance of Muslims

November 13, 2013

The Center for Inquiry’s (CFI) Office of Public Policy has joined a coalition of 125 civil rights, religious, and community-based organizations in writing to the United States Department of Justice urging it to investigate the New York Police Department (NYPD) for spying on Muslims without suspicion of wrongdoing. 

The letter reads, in part:

As shown by the NYPD’s own documents, for over a decade, the Department has engaged in unlawful religious profiling and suspicionless surveillance of Muslims in New York City (and beyond). This surveillance is based on the false and unconstitutional premise, reflected in the NYPD’s published “radicalization"theory, that Muslim religious belief, practices, and community engagement are grounds for law enforcement scrutiny. That is a premise rooted in ignorance and bias: it is wrong and unfairly stigmatizes Muslims, who are a law-abiding, diverse, and integral part of our nation and New York City. Unsurprisingly, the NYPD’s surveillance program has had far-reaching, deeply negative effects on Muslims’ constitutional rights by chilling speech and religious practice and harming religious goals and missions. It has frayed the social fabric of Muslim communities by breeding anxiety, distrust, and fear. The NYPD’s biased policing practices hurt not only Muslims, but all communities who rightfully expect that law enforcement will serve and protect America’s diverse population equally, without discrimination. 

You can download the full letter here (PDF).

Other organizations signing the letter include the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), National Council of Jewish Women, Hindu American Foundation, Sikh Coalition, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), and the American Humanist Association. 

“Freedom of religion is a foundational right in the United States,” said Michael De Dora, director of CFI’s Office of Public Policy. “Law enforcement programs that target American citizens for surveillance simply because they belong to a certain religious tradition or group present a direct threat to this right. If law enforcement can target one religious group for surveillance, there is no stopping them from targeting another group—or a non-religious group. We should all stand together in defending freedom of religion and opposing such programs.”