Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Fordham Law Students Protest NYPD's Surveillance Of Muslims

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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly again defended the New York City Police Department's practice of monitoring Muslim student groups this weekend, saying the effort led investigators to some very dangerous individuals.

In remarks delivered Saturday at a luncheon for Fordham Law School alumni, Kelly said the practice is lawful and falls within the guidelines for police to collect intelligence.

He said the department turned its focus on Muslim student groups in 2006 after learning about terror plots involving such groups in Britain.

He also said the groups were not chosen based on their religious affiliation.

Outside the luncheon at 55 Wall Street, Fordham law students held a protest, saying the practice is nothing more than racial and religious profiling.

They say they are outraged that police sent an agent on a Muslim student association field trip.

"I just want him to know that Muslim students are law-abiding students they have the same right and they should have the same rights that every student has," said student Sarah Zaidi.

"The problem here is that they're holding the Muslim community responsible for actions of a very small, I mean it's not even worth calling them a small minority, a dozen people," said student Adaner Usmani.

"I don't see how targeting and profiling one group, one religious group you can say that that's not a violation of peoples equal protection," said lawyer Beena Ahdma.

Students say they will continue to protest the issue in the coming days and even want ending the policy to become a talking point for candidates in next year's mayor's race.

Meanwhile, a meeting was held Saturday in New Jersey to address the NYPD's tracking of Muslims in that state.

Muslim leaders met with New Jersey's attorney general, who stopped short of promising a formal investigation into the NYPD's surveillance operation. But he said he will look into the issue with the FBI's help.

Several who attended the meeting said all of their concerns were not addressed, including the potential involvement of Newark police.

"We're going to make sure we get to the bottom of the Newark's police department and their role in it," said Amin Nathari of the Muslim Community Coalition of Newark.

"Our community has been working with the FBI, everybody since 9/11, we opened our mosque, everything for them, and we get somebody from New York to come and check on us. This is unacceptable," said Mohamed Yonuef of American Muslim Unity.

New Jersey's Muslim leaders have been pushing for a state investigation - and possibly even a federal probe - into the NYPD's activities.

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