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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Who says the NYPD musn't monitor Muslim communties?

A Washington Homeland Security Department lawyer is asking the federal government to investigate the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Muslim communities. Something similar recently occurred in my own city, Birmingham (in the UK). Here the police were severely reprimanded, by Muslims and left-wing activists, for putting up ‘spy cameras’ to monitor various Muslim areas in the city. The police were ritually scolded at various meetings and in the press and forced to take down the cameras. Around a year later, the other week, six Birmingham Muslims were arrested on suspected terror activities. Not only that. The CCTVs were put up because Birmingham had the highest concentration of Muslim terrorist suspects in the whole of England, surpassing that of even London. All the recent arrests were made where the CCTVs used to be! They are no longer there because of political pressure about the ‘surveillance of Muslim communities’.
There is a problem here. Firstly, was the NYPD, strictly speaking, ‘surveying Muslim communities’ in the first place? Weren’t they investigating particular Muslim groups and individuals within various Muslim communities? The problem is that the surveillance of particular Muslim groups and individuals will come across as the surveillance of ‘Muslim communities’. How can these rights activists and lawyers make this distinction? That is, if you investigate individual Muslims or Muslim groups you cannot help but also monitor Muslim communities in that such monitoring is bound to occur within Muslim communities. Or put it this way. Say that the NYPD monitored six individual Muslims for possible terrorist activities within the US. If only two of those six Muslims are eventually proven to by guilty of terror-related crimes, then it will still look as if the NYPD was investigating or monitoring ‘Muslim communities’. Again, these six Muslims were members of various Muslim communities. Thus, the monitoring of six Muslims, and the eventual prosecution of two Muslims, will seem to be - or actually will be - the same thing as monitoring or surveying Muslim communities.

But there is no way round this!

Every time the police monitors or surveys members of a community for terror-related activities, then, by definition, they will also be monitoring the communities to which these individual Muslim or Muslim groups belong. The police, therefore, are in some kind of bind.

The NYPD can’t be expected not to survey these individual Muslims even if they are members - sometimes respected members - of various Muslim communities. So the investigation into the NYPD’s activities may result, at least in theory, in the stopping of any surveillance of individual Muslims because such surveillance will also be seen as the surveillance of Muslim communities. And no one, not even left-wing rights activists and lawyers, can seriously argue that Muslim individual or groups should not be monitored. That would result in the suicide of New York.

To put this another way. The surveillance of ‘mosques, Islamic bookstores and student groups’ will also seem to be the monitoring of Muslim communities. Presumably terrorist suspects also visit and work in mosques, go to Islamic bookstores and join student group. However, the whole mosque, the entire bookshop or student group will seem to be monitored. There is no way around this as far as I can see. We cannot demand that the NYPD cease to investigate individual Muslims and groups simply because these terrorists suspects are also members of various ‘Muslim communities’ (as well as members of mosques, student groups, etc.). But if left-wing lawyers and rights activists put enough legal and political pressure on the NYPD, then this may end in no monitoring or surveillance of individual Muslims simply because they are also members of Muslim communities. And that in itself could easily end in Islamist terrorist outrages in New York. Do these lawyers and rights activists want that?
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