This report was originally published on February 28, 2012, by the independent campus blog NYU Local. It was written just after NYPD surveillance of Muslim NYU students was reported by the AP. Sadly still relevant, we have republished this post in conjunction with the Nation’s Islamophobia special issue.
The recent AP report disclosing that the NYPD’s counter-terrorism scheme includes Muslim Students Associations in colleges across New York City and the Northeast has prompted indignant backlashes from a slew of Muslim communities and civil liberty unions alike. The AP report was the first to reveal that the Muslim Community at NYU has also come under NYPD’s surveillance.
Ahmad Raza, a Stern senior and the president of Islamic Students Association (ISA) at NYU, expressed “disappointment” at the fact that the covert monitoring scheme was happening on our own campus. “Reports had surfaced mentioning some of the other schools involved and that surprised me, but even though I had my suspicions, I chose not to believe that they were doing this on our campus,” he said.
“A lot of people are concerned about whether to feel safe, not knowing who will be around us, or if what we had said [during ISA meetings] could be twisted in any way,” Iqbal said.
One of the NYPD’s classified cyber intelligence reports from November 2006 revealed that officers were trawling Muslim students’ websites as part of their “daily routine” as far back as six years ago. Included in the scheme was indeed the activities of the Muslim Community at NYU and many other universities across the city. A section of the report titled “Muslims Students Association/ Islamic Center of New York University,” details the speakers, attendees and promoters of events held by the Muslim community at NYU some years ago.
To numerous press inquiries, NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne has answered with the boilerplate defense of the surveillance, which cites 12 individuals—former-members of Muslim associations at college level—arrested or convicted on terrorism charges in the United States.
In legal terms, the ‘Federal Handshu accord’ allows NYPD to “conduct online search activity and to access online sites and forums on the same terms and conditions as members of the public generally,” Browne wrote to WSN in an email. And in an email to the AP, Browne said that such surveillance operations were only conducted between 2006 and 2007.