Monday, February 6, 2012

Document shows NYPD eyed Shiites based on religion

In the article, the issue of investigating a person, group, or organization based solely on religion is brought to the forefront.  The press recently discovered a document pertaining to the NYPD.  Within the document, the NYPD is given permission to target mosques for investigation based on their population of Iranian attendees and their religious sect within Muslim.  The Shiite sect within the Muslim religion is the targeted group within the NYPD’s jurisdiction and even in some areas outside NYPD’s jurisdiction. 
With permission to target the Shiite religious group, the New York Police Department has eavesdropped, infiltrated mosques, and monitored Muslim neighborhoods as plainclothes officers.  The jurisdiction of the document is defined as the NYPD’s jurisdiction; however, the NYPD has spread this investigation far outside its jurisdiction into New Jersey and Connecticut.  The investigations and spying efforts started soon after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Investigations based on religion are prohibited by city law and under the NYPD’s guidelines, yet the document clearly breaks these laws and guidelines.  Iranian Shiite Muslims are mostly targeted due to their origin and sect of religion.  Iranian Muslims are thought to be the terrorists within the U.S., but Palestinians are targeted as well because terrorists could be of a Palestinian background. 
Yes, the majority of Iran’s population is Shiite, but this sect of the Muslim religion is said to be allies with the United States in the fight against Muslim extremists.  Al-Qaida and other extremist groups are Sunni Muslims who oppress the Shiite Muslims.  Many Shiites sought refuge in the West from the oppressing Sunnis. 
The NYPD and U.S. continue to be concerned with Iran, therefore investigations and spying continue of Iranian Muslims.  The U.S. worries about reactions and efforts that would arise if the U.S. went to war or any other form of open military conflict with Iran.  One mosque president in Philadelphia, Asad Sadiq, claims the NYPD is being unfairly broad.  He states, "If you attack Cuba, are all the Catholics going to attack here? This is called guilt by association… Just because we are the same religion doesn't mean we're going to stand up and harm the United States. It's really absurd."
I agree that the NYPD is accusing a population based on religion due to fear of the what-if situations.  Guilty by association is exactly what is being place on the Shiite group in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  Just because they are the same religion doesn’t mean they stand for the same things.  Many Shiite Muslims want to escape to religiously free nations to rid themselves of oppression and ridiculing.  The U.S. should be the religiously free nation that the Muslims seeking refuge can go, and not a nation that creates more oppression and guilt. 
The issue that has arisen from these documents is the police departments’ and other law enforcing officials’ jurisdiction and the laws and guidelines they follow based on discrimination.  Targeting a group based on religion is discrimination at the root, while also threatening religious freedom. 


Emrah K said...

In Shi'a Islam there is a strict obedience to Imam/religious authority. The U.S and Iran have a conflict that it is guessed the U.S will attack to Iran. In this case, in Iran the highest religious committee may announce a big jihad for all Shiites. Therefore, the U.S is trying to protect itself within the country. So I think the U.S behaves correctly because they (American politicians, media, and police departments, etc) must play the role in accordance with the scenario!

Sachin G said...

Protecting Religious freedom of Muslims or protecting Americans from foreign attacks, which is more important? I'd say protecting the country. The law of religious freedom shouldn't apply in a scenario like this because of the risk of American lives. NYPD's spying is justified and for Muslims who are offended by that ,should look at it as the "curse of being a Muslim". Law and religion seem to conflict more that i thought. No one law can challenge religious beliefs and no religious beliefs can challenge the law. The two repel each in some ways but are very much attracted to each other.

Tiffany S. said...

This is definitely a sticky situation. It is wrong for people to be targeted just because they choose to practice a certain religion. The points these two are making on the protection of Americans could be valid. However, how do we know that if we go to war then the Muslims will turn on America. This is a problem of overgeneralizing. Thinking like this is what will cause problems like the Japanese internment camps. Don't you think if the Iranian government was going to have someone infiltrate America that they would know not to have their people so easily identifiable. This is just as bad as targeting people of different races, if they just justify it as they are trying to protect the city from gangs.

Aanal P. said...

I realize that the NYPD is taking certain measures for safety purposes and also for research purposes for a future potential conflict between US and Iran, but I would have to say that the NYPD is crossing its limits and going beyond their jurisprudence. The fact that “the NYPD is prohibited under its own guidelines and city law from basing its investigations on religion” is enough to say that this type of religious discrimination is unlawful, and as stated in the article, ineffective as well. There is a clear discrimination towards Iranian Shi’ites proven by the video used by the NYPD in training 1,500 officers. This type of document is a result of speculation driven by fear as it is “dated just weeks after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress that, "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran."” This type of spying began after the 9/11 attacks, therefore, when considered in context, these measures taken by the NYPD seem only normal. But it has been a while since the attacks and keeping in mind that the al-Qaida is a largely Sunni group, Shi’ite are actually persecuted by the sunnis and they seek refuge in the west, and also that there has been no evidence found in any Shi’ite mosques pertaining to terrorist attacks, this targeting of the mosques seems unlawful and unnecessary. Another negative aspect of this type of targeting is that it raises questions about religious freedom. The fact that Iranian Shi’ites and Palestinians are being targeted in this way and are constantly watched proves that they aren’t allowed to exercise their freedom of religion like others are. If a group of people can’t practice their religion without persecution, it is like telling them they don’t have the freedom to practice that religion. It will potentially drive people away from practicing that religion at all. Also, the fact that the other religions aren’t persecuted sends the message that the state or country has “established” those religions as they are no persecuted by the government. This is obviously a problem and avoiding this type of problem means ending targeting based on religious affiliations.

Gabe AB said...

The NYPD is making the mistake here of grouping ordinary Muslims in with the extremist groups that target our country. As the article shows, it is an unfairly broad categorization, and could be roughly analogous to someone believing that all catholic priests could be pedophiles. Members of groups wanting to harm America would not find supporters in mainstream congregations, and would be forced to find or form underground groups to advance this cause. However, this seems to be completely lost on the NYPD, who are clearly wasting time targeting legitimate Muslims.

Vugdalic A said...

This is a complicated matter that for the United States in which one has to choose between the protection of religious freedom over the protection of national security. One cannot blame the United States for the fear that has come to the surface after 9/11. One has to know that generalization was bound to happen in that most of the Muslim population that resembles the terrorist was going to be under suspicion. One has to know that this is not the first time that this has happened, and it can be seen with not just religious matter. Even though racial profiling is not allowed to be used the police, one can still see that it is. It is a problem that people as humans have, fear is a hard thing to compete with when it comes to law.