NEW YORK – Despite the announcement of disbanding New York police spy unit, a growing number of the city Latino Muslim residents have expressed concerns that they were being watched by authorities who put them under close surveillance or try to use them as informants.
“I noticed that they were cops because they were wearing their badges on their belts,” woman of Puerto Rican descent, who asked for anonymity, told El Diario newspaper, Latino Fox News reported on Thursday, May 29.
According to the woman, a political science major, the officers followed her from the Manhattan campus of the university she attends to her workplace in Brooklyn.
US Muslims Welcome Spy Unit Disbanding
Launching its much criticized spy program in 2003, NYPD has been investigating mosques, entire ethnic communities and Muslim student associations in several universities across the US.
The program of undercover spying has drawn anger of Muslim communities who demanded disbanding the controversial surveillance unit.
Last month, NY police commissioner William Bratton announced disbanding the spy unit, marking a long-awaited shift to new strategies of America's largest police force that was accused of stigmatizing Muslims since 9/11 attacks.
"Our administration has promised the people of New York a police force that keeps our city safe, but that is also respectful and fair,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in April.
“This reform is a critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve."
However, Latino Muslim celebrations did not last long.
In nearby Union City, in Northern New Jersey, where the highest concentration of Hispanics lived, Tusha Díaz was another victim of this surveillance.
Diaz, who prays at the North Hudson Islamic Educational Center, said the many undocumented immigrants were afraid to go to the mosque because of the high surveillance.
“The uncertainty about being watched scares them away,” said Díaz, 35.
Kefah Elabed, an executive board member at North Hudson mosque, estimates that of the 1,000 or so regular worshipers, about 100 are Latinos.
A Muslim legal adviser said he was not surprised by the news of putting Latinos under surveillance.
“We received complaints from Muslims who have been stopped by the FBI trying to overtly offer them money – or even threaten them – to become informers,” Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, a legal adviser for the Miami office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that advocates for the rights of Islamic Americans, told El Diario.
For some Muslims, surveillance was not their biggest problem amid prevailing feelings of mistrust between Muslims and police department.
“The problem is that they could do something against us,” Sadia Irfan, 32, a Mexican-American who converted to Islam a couple of years ago, said.
Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
Muslims’ anger has grown against the New York police following revelations in 2011 by the Associated Press that the NYPD used undercover agents to spy on Muslim communities.
A report by the AP said that the NYPD sent out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track daily life and monitor mosques as well as Muslim student organizations.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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