NYPD’s latest move to secretly monitor the movements and activities of members of Muslim Student Associations seems to be almost an act of desperation. From spying on Muslim citizens to training police officers using a dangerous film, and now this… when will NYPD learn that there have to be better ways to counter extremism? True, there are Muslims in the U.S. who have committed crimes, but there are also Christians, Jews and atheists with the same mindset. Crime and terror know no religion, after all.
On the other hand, singling out an entire population on the pretense of national security not only seems overkill but is also sure to backfire. Here are some reasons why the NYPD should re-think its strategy:
- As leader of the free world, the United States sets an example for the other nations to follow, and the police officers of New York City really should be a shining role model for us all. Instead they are resorting to tactics reminiscent of paranoid dictatorships.
- Spying on one religious group offers a precedent for similar treatment on other groups in the future; it’s Muslims right now, who will it be next year?
- Spying gives those affected a basis for bringing discrimination claims against the police department which could end up being a political nightmare.
- Assuming that all adherents of a religion are, at the very least hiding something sends a strong negative message to the entire nation, and may lead to stereotyping, misunderstanding and widening of gaps.
- Strategies that target an entire group of people may lead to a mindset of inequality and intolerance in the younger generation and our future leaders.
- The police departments of other cities may decide to follow suit and a large-scale operation against Muslims will ensue.
- Any inclusive strategies other police departments may be engaging in – such as cultural sensitivity trainings by the Houston Police – may be seriously undermined.
- Muslims and other immigrants may lose trust in the police, leading to an overall reduction in crime reporting and citizen assistance.
- The costs of monitoring the activities of a diverse and growing religious group in the country are bound to add up to a pretty penny.
- Monitoring the activities of MSAs will probably discourage students’ legitimate involvements in student groups, resulting in a reduction in student leadership, academic achievements and even social services that Muslim students typically perform on campus.
I urge the NYPD to consider this: civil liberties and personal freedoms are values that our founding fathers wished to protect at all costs. Does New York’s finest really consider itself above the values that made our great country? I hope not.
Original Post By Saadia Faruqi, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Houston North
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