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article imageNew York police label mosques 'terrorism organizations'

By John Sevigny     Aug 29, 2013 in World
New York - In a move angering countless Muslims and civil rights activists, the New York Police Department has labeled mosques as "terrorism organizations," allowing informants to spy on imams and anyone attending prayer services.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, New York police opened at least 12 “terrorism enterprise investigations” into mosques, according to interviews and confidential police documents, Time Magazine and other media organizations reported.
Police informants have reportedly spied on mosques from outside and inside, and joined Muslim committees to collect information on possible terrorism plots. Mayor Bloomberg defended the investigations as part of a normal effort to keep the city safe, but some see the probes as prejudicial and offensive to their religion.
“This is a new level of low for the New York Police Department,” Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab American Association in Brooklyn told the New York Daily News.
There are at least 175 mosques and approximately 600,000 followers of Islam in New York, according to the online magazine, A Journey Through NYC Religions. Many are from India, Pakistan, Palestine, Turkey and elsewhere. Nationwide, Pew Research reported that there were almost 2.6 million Muslims living in the United States in 2010.
Critics of New York's mosque investigation program believe it could dissuade some Muslims from freely practicing their religion. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the city.
"Throughout America’s history, almost every religious group, including Jews, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims, has been the target of discrimination," a statement on the ACLU Web site reads in part. "Tolerance and fairness have generally prevailed, but only after principled voices have transcended the fear and hatred."
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley stands by the program and says it does not target or profile people.
"As a matter of department policy, undercover officers and confidential informants do not enter a mosque unless they are following up on a lead," Kelly wrote in The Wall Street Journal, according to CBS news. "We have a responsibility to protect New Yorkers from violent crime or another terrorist attack -- and we uphold the law in doing so."
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