Judge Rejects Settlement Over Surveillance of Muslims by New York Police Department

A federal judge has rejected the settlement of a lawsuit stemming from the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Muslims, saying the proposed deal does not provide enough oversight of an agency that he said had shown a “systemic inclination” to ignore rules protecting free speech and religion.

In January, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, agreed to appoint a civilian lawyer to monitor the department’s counterterrorism activities as a means of settling two lawsuits accusing the city of violating the rights of Muslims over the past decade.

But the judge, Charles S. Haight Jr., in an opinion published on Monday, said the settlement did not go far enough for an agency that had become “accustomed to disregarding” court orders.

“The proposed role and powers of the civilian representative,” Judge Haight wrote, “do not furnish sufficient protection from potential violations of the constitutional rights of those law-abiding Muslims and believers in Islam who live, move and have their being in this city.”

Judge Rejects Settlement Over Surveillance of Muslims by New York Police Department

A federal judge has rejected the settlement of a lawsuit stemming from the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Muslims, saying the proposed deal does not provide enough oversight of an agency that he said had shown a “systemic inclination” to ignore rules protecting free speech and religion.

In January, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, agreed to appoint a civilian lawyer to monitor the department’s counterterrorism activities as a means of settling two lawsuits accusing the city of violating the rights of Muslims over the past decade.

But the judge, Charles S. Haight Jr., in an opinion published on Monday, said the settlement did not go far enough for an agency that had become “accustomed to disregarding” court orders.

“The proposed role and powers of the civilian representative,” Judge Haight wrote, “do not furnish sufficient protection from potential violations of the constitutional rights of those law-abiding Muslims and believers in Islam who live, move and have their being in this city.”

NC Senate passes ‘Sharia law’ bill

RALEIGH — The state Senate on Friday passed a bill that would keep courts from recognizing Sharia law.

While proponents of the legislation said it would keep people safe from foreign laws, critics derided the bill as sending a message of intolerance and bigotry to followers of Islam.
The Senate had already approved the measure when it was attached to a controversial measure that would impose stricter regulations on abortion providers in the state. But the foreign law provision wasn’t sufficiently critiqued because abortion overwhelmed the floor debate, said Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democrat from Durham.

Now called House Bill 522, the provision’s contents haven’t changed. It reminds judges that the U.S. and N.C. constitutions are the law of the land and no foreign law can supersede them. Sometimes international laws are used in court as evidence before a judge, or in written opinions. But this bill would stop judges from considering foreign law when it violates a citizen’s constitutional rights.

“Unfortunately we have judges from time to time … that sometimes seem to forget what the supreme law of the land is, and sometimes make improper rulings,” said Sen. E.S. “Buck” Newton, a Wilson Republican and the legislation’s Senate sponsor.

Though the bill doesn’t specifically mention it, Newton was clear during Friday’s session that the legislation targets Sharia law, a legal system based on the religious and moral tenants of Islam. Few Muslim countries apply the entire body of rules, instead choosing measures relevant to them. More than 60 countries use at least part of Sharia law in their governance.

Its improper use has “worked to deprive” U.S. citizens and immigrants of their constitutional rights, Newton said. There have been 27 reported cases around the country in which Sharia law has been used, he added.

More than 20 states have introduced legislation banning Sharia law or foreign law in state courts. Many bills – including North Carolina’s – would apply only to cases in which the application of foreign law would violate a person’s constitutional rights.

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Chapel Hill, a Democrat, said she thinks the bill’s sponsors don’t truly mean to inform judges that foreign law is unacceptable, but rather the people of North Carolina.

“I think the audience is really wider,” Kinnaird said.

 

FBI Muslim spying vs. personal liberties

A federal judge Tuesday threw out a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government and the FBI over the agency’s spying on Orange County Muslims, ruling that allowing the suit to go forward would risk divulging sensitive state secrets.

Times court reporter Victoria Kim will join L.A. Now Live for a web chat at 9 a.m. to discuss the class-action lawsuit, which was brought by a group of Orange County Muslims who contended their constitutional rights were trampled when the FBI sent an undercover informant into their midst to illegally spy on them.

Comparing himself to Odysseus navigating the waters between a six-headed monster and a deadly whirlpool, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney wrote that “the state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security.”

The judge said he reached the decision reluctantly after reviewing confidential declarations filed by top FBI officials, and he was convinced the operation in question involved “intelligence that, if disclosed, would significantly compromise national security.”

Carney allowed the suit to stand against individual FBI agents and supervisors on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act-related claims.

Muslim American sues FBI over tracking movements

A California Muslim man sued the Obama administration and the FBI on Wednesday for violating his constitutional rights by tracking his movements with a GPS device hidden on his car.
Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old American citizen by birth, studying in Santa Clara, California, was alerted to the tracking device by a mechanic last October when he took his car for an oil change. He was confronted by FBI agents days later after removing it.

The lawsuit accused the FBI and the Justice Department of violating his constitutional rights by conducting searches without a warrant, tracking his movements and chilling his freedom of association and freedom of speech.

Islam-wary Swiss may ban minarets

Switzerland will hold a referendum on banning the construction of new minarets on November 29 in response to a petition for a popular vote on the issue, the government said. A group of politicians from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and Federal Democratic Union gathered enough signatures last year to force the referendum, but the government opposes a ban. Switzerland is home to more than 300,000 Muslims – about four percent of the population – as well as hundreds of mosques, but only a handful of the mosques have a minaret tower and applications to build more prompted the campaign for a ban. Supporters of a ban say minarets do not have any religious justification but are symbols of Islamic power which injures Swiss constitutional rights to religious freedom. The right-wing SVP, the country’s biggest party which won 29% of the vote in the last election, has drawn accusations of racism for its anti-immigration campaigns, including one featuring white sheep kicking a black sheep off a Swiss flag.The government said last year it was against a ban, saying it would violate international human rights and the country’s constitution and might incite tensions between religions and hinder integration of the Muslim population.

Italy’s Northern League seeks to block new mosques

Italy’s Northern League has proposed new legislation which would halt the construction of new mosques. The bill would require regional approval for the building of mosques and require that a local referendum be held concerning minarets and loudspeakers calling the faithful to prayer. The Financial Times reports that the chances of this being approved are slim, as the legislation clashes with several constitutional rights. The legislation is set to be sent to Italian parliament next week.