FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 2, 2015 Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) are outraged to learn that the NYPD has continued to spy on the Muslim community and calls on the Mayor and City to put a halt to this discriminatory practice immediately. Despite Mayor De Blasio’s statement when he took office that it is unfair for law enforcement to single out people on the basis of their religion, the Gothamist reported that an undercover NYPD officer had been spying on a group of Muslim students at Brooklyn College as late as December 2014, eight months after he took office.
Pretending to have converted to Islam, the undercover NYPD officer spied for four years on women from the Brooklyn College Islamic Society solely because they are Muslim. Such surveillance undermines civil liberties and injures the people and community being targeted.
In 2011/2012, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press series documented that the NYPD had engaged in a far-reaching surveillance program that burrowed deep into the lives and institutions of New York-area Muslim communities. Informants were placed in mosques, Muslim student organizations, and Muslim-owned bookstores, businesses, and cafes. Some infiltrated Muslim student groups on college campuses at six branches of the City University of New York, as well as at colleges outside the City.
“That Muslim students at Brooklyn College were spied on like this makes a farce of anything De Blasio said about protecting people on the basis of their religion,” stated Candace Graff, member of JAI. “We need to speak out far and wide against this spying and intimidation.”
According to JAI member and CUNY emerita professor, Rosalind Petchesky, “The Muslim community continues to face discrimination on a daily basis—in employment, through acts of violence and hate crimes against them, and through continued state-sponsored Islamophobia. It is shameful that students at Brooklyn College—or anywhere—have to endure this kind of discriminatory treatment. It is not only the City that is responsible. Chancellor Milliken’s office and the administrations of Brooklyn College and all CUNY campuses need to be adamant about protecting our students against bias, spying, and harassment.”
As Alan Levine, civil rights lawyer and member of JAI, wrote in a 2012 piece in the National Law Journal on NYPD’s Unconstitutional Surveillance, “The Muslim community should not have to wait a day longer for city officials to abandon a practice that so flagrantly affronts principles of equal justice and religious freedom.” This remains equally true in 2015 and must stop immediately.