In late August, it was revealed that the New York Police Department secretly labeled mosques (and at least one Arab-American group) in the New York City area as terrorist organizations, a designation that allowed the NYPD to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams and attendees.

The NYPD is often able to issue this increased surveillance protocol without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing. According to the Associated Press report (released by AP affiliates such as TIME), the NYPD has opened at least a dozen Terrorism Enterprise Investigations (TEIs) on mosques. The NYPD uses a TEI designation to investigate terrorist cells, the report says.

On September 12th, city lawyer Peter Farrell claimed that the New York Police Department had legitimate reasons to put specific mosques and Muslim worshippers under surveillance as part of its counterterrorism efforts.  Many civil rights organizations, and the Columbia University Muslim Students Association’s Executive Board, disagrees.

The Columbia Muslim Students Association’s Executive Board strongly disagrees with this invasive strategy, which allows the NYPD to send undercover officers into mosques and attempt to plant informants on the boards of mosques. In a more-than-ten-year wave of discrimination emanating from the NYPD, the CUMSA Executive Board expresses hope that these unlawful practices will stop immediately and cease to vitiate the name of this wonderful city.

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