Report: NYPD's Surveillance of Muslims 'Harmful'

Muslim rights groups at Foley Square on February 3, 2011 protesting NYPD surveillance of Muslims in the city.

The New York Police Department’s surveillance of the Muslim community has had harmful consequences, according to a report being released Monday from the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition and its partners.

“People feeling they can’t trust anybody in the mosque; that they can’t speak to their imam in confidence; that they don’t trust converts or people who express interest in their religion,” said Diala Shamas, one of the report authors.

The Associated Press reported in 2011 that the NYPD surveilled and infiltrated Muslim neighborhoods.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has defended the practice saying his officers only followed leads and the program was conducted within legal guidelines.

But Shamas says it has had a chilling effect, especially on young Muslim New Yorkers who say they curtailed their participation in student life due to the surveillance.

“We had so many students that we spoke to say that they don’t feel like participating in MSA [Muslim Student Associations] activities is wise or whose parents have warned them from joining the MSA, or being active members of the MSA, or joining the board of the MSA,” she said.

The NYPD surveilled a large number of student associations, spanning from the City University of New York system to Yale, according to the Associated Press.

The authors interviewed 57 Muslims-Americans, including religious figures, youths, business owners, professionals and law enforcement officers for the report.