Muslim Students Monitored by NYPD

Vanessa Estime

In a surprising admission, the New York Police Department has been reported as monitoring college students—Muslim college students—across the Northeast. The surveillance of Muslim student associations (MSAs) occurred at schools such as Columbia, Rutgers, Stony Brook, Syracuse, and even Yale University.

Undercover police officers followed Muslim students on outside field trips, to eateries, their worship places, wrote down their names, and recorded them in police intelligence files for NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. What called for such intrusive observations? The Associated Press questioned Paul Browne, police spokesman, about the monitoring, and he offered names of twelve people arrested for or convicted of domestic and international terrorism charges who had been previous members of MSAs.

“As a result, the NYPD deemed it prudent to get a better handle on what was occurring at MSAs,” Browne commented. Despite the fact that Commissioner Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have said police only follow substantiated leads about criminal activity, students with no history of criminal wrongdoing are still being documented.

Students and universities alike have voiced their opinions concerning the monitoring. “I see a violation of civil rights here,” said Tanweer Haq, chaplain of the Muslim Student Association at Syracuse according to the Associated Press. “Nobody wants to be on the list of the FBI or the NYPD or whatever. Muslim students want to have their own lives, their own privacy, and enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that everybody else has.”

After finding out an undercover police officer accompanied a group of students on a whitewater rafting trip, Jawad Rasul said, “It forces me to look around wherever I am now.” City College of New York remarked that it did not condone the investigation especially with insufficient evidence to link members of the college to criminal activity, and University at Buffalo said it would not voluntarily collaborate with such an investigation as it supports the notions of freedom of speech and religion. Another student stated that it [the investigation] was just a waste of resources, though she worries what being associated with the police report will bring.