Rep. Peter King Urges Donald Trump To Create A Federal Muslim Surveillance Program

NEW YORK ― Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is encouraging Donald Trump to create a federal Muslim surveillance program that’s modeled after New York City’s failed and likely unconstitutional program.

“The main issues I discussed were what we have to do to have the Justice Department and the FBI be more leaning-forward when it comes to investigating Islamic terrorism,” King told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan after meeting with the president-elect on Thursday.

 

 

Lawyer: NYC hopes surveillance deal alters image of police

NEW YORK — A New York City lawyer said Wednesday that the city hoped to improve the image of its police department when it reached a deal with civil rights advocates to allow a civilian to serve on a committee of high-ranking police officials as they discuss investigations relating to surveillance of political activities.

City attorney Peter Farrell made the comment as he urged a federal judge in Manhattan to approve a deal settling lawsuits contending that the police department had violated constitutional rights in its infiltration and surveillance of Muslim communities after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As part of the deal, an attorney chosen by the city’s mayor and police commissioner would serve for five years on a committee along with a dozen New York Police Department officials to discuss the initiation, continuation and closing of investigations pertaining to political activities.

The deal grew in part from a 2013 lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court by mosques, a charity and community leaders alleging that the department was discriminating against Muslims.

Several years ago, The Associated Press revealed that New York City police spied on Muslims, infiltrated student groups and sent informants to mosques.

Bloomberg: “Muslim Groups Seek To Revive New York Police Surveillance Suit”

Sophia Pearson for Bloomberg: “Muslim groups seeking to revive a lawsuit over a New York City Police Department surveillance program of mosques and businesses faced tough questions from appeals judges about terrorism and skepticism from an attorney for the city about the program’s very existence.

Several Muslims sued New York in June 2012 in Newark, New Jersey, federal court claiming police singled them out for their religious beliefs. The plaintiffs included a U.S. soldier and a teacher at a Muslim school for girls. Both said their career prospects would be hindered as a result of the spying.”

New York City public school kids getting new Muslim, Lunar New Year holidays

February 4, 2014

 

Mayor de Blasio said Monday that he’d move forward with closing schools for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, two Muslim holy days, and for Lunar New Year. But he was hesitant regarding Hindu festival Diwali.

Appearing on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” on Monday, the mayor said he hadn’t taken a position on whether Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated in India and other South Asian countries, should be a day off from school.

But he said he’d move forward with closing schools for Lunar New Year and for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, Muslim holy days.

“It is complicated in terms of logistics and school calendar and budget. But it’s something I want to get done in a reasonable time frame,” he said.

 

NY Daily News:  http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/nyc-public-school-kids-new-holidays-article-1.1601237#ixzz2tY0E5Rjl

Mayor Says New York City Will Settle Suits on Stop-and-Frisk Tactics

January 30, 2014

 

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today welcomed an agreement proposed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for the city to reach a settlement in its legal battle over the controversial NYPD “stop-and-frisk” policy.
That policy involved stopping, questioning and frisking people in primarily African-American and Latino neighborhoods. Last year, a federal judge found that the police tactic was unconstitutional, calling it “a policy of indirect racial profiling.”

The mayor and the Center for Constitutional Rights announced a deal to drop the city’s appeal of a court ruling and that would accept the remedies ordered by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin including the appointment of outside monitor, Peter L. Zimroth, to oversee reforms.
In making the announcement, which he said he hoped would end a turbulent chapter in the city’s racial history, Mr. de Blasio offered a sweeping repudiation of the aggressive policing practices that had been a hallmark of his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, but that had stoked anger and resentment in many black and Latino neighborhoods. He essentially reversed the course set by Mr. Bloomberg, whose administration had appealed the judge’s ruling.

“We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men.”
The judge, Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, found that the department’s stop-and-frisk tactics were unconstitutional, and that it had resorted to “a policy of indirect racial profiling.” At the height of the program, in the first quarter of 2012, the police stopped people — mostly black and Latino men — on more than 200,000 occasions. A vast majority of those stopped were found to have done nothing wrong.

Judge Scheindlin had ordered the appointment of a monitor to develop, in consultation with the parties, widespread reforms of the department’s “policies, training, supervision, monitoring and discipline regarding stop-and-frisk.” That process will go forward as part of the agreement.

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/nyregion/de-blasio-stop-and-frisk.html?_r=0
Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12351-cair-ny-welcomes-mayors-deal-to-end-nypd-stop-and-frisk.html

NYC schools could close to observe Muslim holidays

October 17, 2013

 

The city’s two mayoral candidates both support adding Eid celebrations to list of days schools are closed.

After a new mayor takes office in New York City next year, schoolchildren could very well have an additional two days off in observance of Muslim holidays. Both mayoral candidates, Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota, say they support the idea. If such a measure were to come to pass, the New York City school district would be the largest in the United States to grant the days off.

De Blasio said during a campaign rally with local Muslims on Wednesday that observing Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, a celebration during hajj, would help to recognize the city’s large Muslim population and wouldn’t take away from the education kids get.

“A child who has an exam on a day that right now is one of the Eid holidays, they’re either respecting their religious obligation or they’re doing what their education requires of them,” de Blasio said, according to the New York Daily News. “They can’t do both under our current system.”

About 13 percent of the city’s schoolchildren are Muslims, de Blasio added.

His Republican rival, former city transit chief Joe Lhota, also said that adding the holidays would be a good idea. Students would come to school on two other days to make up for the holidays, he said.

“We have a growing Muslim community in the city of New York and their religion needs to be respected as all other religions are respected,” Lhota said Wednesday, according to the Daily News.

Outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg opposes the idea. He has said that observing the holidays would take away from students’ education and open the door to similar requests from other religious and ethnic groups.

 

Al-Jazeera America: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/17/new-york-schoolscouldgetmuslimholidays.html

Religious, civil rights groups demand investigation of NYPD spying

October 25, 2013

 

A coalition of 125 religious, civil rights, and community-based organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday (Oct. 24) urging a civil rights investigation into a New York City Police Department program that spies on Muslims.

Groups from several faith traditions signed the letter including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the National Council of Jewish Women, the Hindu American Foundation, and the Sikh Coalition. Civil rights groups include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and the National Network for Arab American Communities.

The NYPD program is already the target of two federal lawsuits, one filed in June by the ACLU and the City University of New York Law School’s Center for Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility, and the other filed in June 2012, by several Muslim plaintiffs represented by Muslim Advocates and the law firm Bhalla and Cho.

“Putting a class of Americans under surveillance based on their religion is a clear violation of our Constitution’s guarantees of equality and religious freedom,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, said in a statement. “The NYPD’s surveillance program has stigmatized Muslims as suspect and had deeply negative effects on their free speech, association, and religious practice.”

 

www.religionnews.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2013/10/25/religious-civil-rights-groups-demand-investigation-nypd-spying/

Anti-mosque group linked to Va. Beach councilman

October 17, 2013

 

A few weeks before last month’s vote on the city’s first mosque, Councilman Bill DeSteph received a 25-page PowerPoint presentation.

It came from the leader of the local chapter of ACT for America, a group concerned about radical Islamists in the United States, and alleged the proposed mosque had ties to Muslim extremists.

DeSteph, the only council member to vote against the mosque on Sept. 24, later said he had information that the facility was a threat to national security, but he declined to give details. He said he passed the information to the federal government.

That PowerPoint, other correspondence obtained by The Virginian-Pilot through the Freedom of Information Act and interviews show that DeSteph used information from the local ACT leader to help make his decision on the mosque, and that ACT hoped he would be a political voice in Richmond for its agenda. DeSteph, a former naval intelligence officer, is running as a Republican for the 82nd District seat in the House of Delegates.

Since then, DeSteph has mostly refused to comment on the mosque, citing what he calls an “ongoing investigation.”

Last month, the FBI wouldn’t comment on DeSteph’s allegations. The FBI has not responded to a request for additional comment because of the partial federal government shutdown.

This is not first time DeSteph has raised questions about mosques or Islam.

In 2010, he wrote to New York City officials objecting to plans for a Muslim community center near the World Trade Center site. The letter was nearly identical to an online petition from ACT.

At the time, DeSteph was dating the daughter of the founder of the national ACT group, Brigitte Gabriel, an author and activist. Gabriel and ACT Executive Director Guy Rodgers, a former field director for the Christian Coalition and a political consultant, live in Virginia Beach.

ACT’s local leader, Scott Saunders, wrote to the City Council to urge them to oppose the mosque. He suggested it would be tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that seeks to spread Islamic law, sometimes violently, throughout the world.

A few weeks before the vote, Saunders gave DeSteph a hard copy of a PowerPoint he’d put together, DeSteph said. The presentation, called “String Theory,” is subtitled “You’ll be amazed what you find when you start to pull the little strings.”

 

The Virginian Pilot: http://hamptonroads.com/2013/10/antimosque-group-linked-va-beach-councilman

Diesel Burqa Ad: Islamophobic Or Empowering?

(RNS) Islamophobic or empowering? Those are among the reactions to a new Diesel jeans ad featuring a heavily tattooed, topless white woman wearing a redesigned, denim burqa.

The slogan next to her: “I Am Not What I Appear To Be.”

Racist and condescending are among the criticisms that have been leveled at the ad, created by Nicola Formichetti, former stylist to Lady Gaga, who made waves last month with her song “Burqa.” But others, including a female Muslim marketing consultant who advised Diesel, said the idea was to make people question assumptions and stereotypes.

“This was to challenge that idea that when you see a woman in a burqa, or niqab or even hijab, that you assume certain things about her,” said Ameena Meer, an observant Muslim and founder and principal of Take-Out Media, the consulting firm that advised Diesel.

Not everyone sees it that way. Sana Saeed, senior editor at the Islamic legal news website Islawmix, tweeted that she has dreaded the day when capitalism would consume the veil.

And Shruti Parekh, a New York City videographer and member of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective, wrote that the ad is “rife with Islamophobia and attacks on the Muslim world.”

While Muslim women in the West who wear burqas must suffer through negative connotations and open hostility, Parekh wrote, the white model in Diesel’s ad doesn’t.

Spying on Muslims

The New York City Police Department’s indefensible program of spying on law-abiding Muslims in their neighborhoods and houses of worship has turned out to be even more aggressive than earlier reports had shown.

According to a recent Associated Press report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, the surveillance operation designated at least a dozen mosques as terrorist organizations. The designation was used to justify open-ended “terrorism enterprise investigations,” circumventing court-imposed limitations on police investigations of constitutionally protected activities. The report is based largely on leaked police documents and interviews; though most of the documents date back a few years, recent court filings suggest such activities are continuing.

 

In a move reminiscent of discredited police efforts in the 1960s and 1970s to spy on black activists and antiwar protesters, attempts were made to plant informants on the boards of mosques and a prominent Arab-American group in Brooklyn that helps new immigrants.