The Mayor of New York has vigorously defended the NYPD’s controversial secret surveillance of the Muslim community.
During his weekly radio address, Michael Bloomberg said officers would continue to monitor potential threats within and beyond city limits.
“Everything the New York Police Department has done is legal, it is appropriate, it is constitutional,” he said. “They are permitted to travel beyond the borders of New York City to investigate cases. They can look at websites, they can watch television to detect unlawful activities or where there might be unlawful activities to get leads. We don’t target individuals based on race or religion.”
But lawmakers and Muslim groups have been debating the legality of the operation for the last week.
“It’s unconstitutional, un-American,” argued Mohamed El Filali from the Islamic Centre of Passiac County. “If there is a lead, by all means, I totally agree that there should be an investigation. The safety of our country comes first, but not at the jeopardy of our civil liberties.”
The complaint is that the surveillance has been systematic, apparently cataloging Muslim businesses, mosques and those who attend them.
“How do I feel? I feel violated, of course,” said one member of a mosque known to have been watched. “No one has the right to invade my privacy and they have done that. I want to stop it and I want to find those who were engaged in such activities and hold them accountable for that.”
The NYPD argues attacks in New York were often planned and prepared outside of the city. And they insist they liaised with other forces over their actions.