Muslim advocates: NYPD spying will be judged by history

Muslims pray at Park 51's Prayerspace last year.
EMILY ANNE EPSTEIN/METRO

A poll released yesterday indicates that most New Yorkers think the NYPD was right to spy on Muslims, but others say only time will tell how the police’s actions will be judged.
 
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Big Apple residents approve of the way New York police are doing their job by a 63 ­ 31 percent margin. More specifically, 58 percent of people polled believe that the NYPD’s
surveillance of Muslims to combat terrorism was “appropriate.”
 
Just 29 percent said it was “unfair.”
 
“New Yorkers brush aside the gripes about police surveillance of the Muslim community,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Voter approval of the way police are handling terrorism is through the roof.”
 
Zead Ramadan, chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy organization, said the results reminded him of other events in U.S. history that were OK’d by the general public.
 
“Once upon a time, we, Americans approved of the Japanese internment during WWII, of segregation and slavery,” Ramadan said.
 
He said the public’s approval of the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance was another instance when, “the opinion of the general public stood against respecting rights for the “other.”
 
Roosevelt Island attorney Mohammad Ali Naquvi, 35, attended at least eight of the mosques the NYPD watched and said he was not surprised by the results of the poll. His concern, he said, was that the general approval may open the floodgates to more “unconstitutional” behavior.
 
“New Yorkers and all our American neighbors must come to realize that surveillance of innocent people can inhibit such lawful activities as free speech, free association, and other First Amendment rights essential for democracy,” Naquvi said. “Next thing you know, the NYPD could be spying on your community and getting away with it.”

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyAEpstein



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