Muslim college students under inspection

by Syeda Khan

Many universities and student groups across the Northeast are strongly disapproving the inspection of Muslim college students across the Northeast region by the New York Police Department, according to

Rutgers University and leaders of various Muslim groups are calling for an investigation into this matter. The NYPD has monitored Muslim college students more thoroughly than ever before including Yale University, Columbia University, The University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University, New York University, Clarkson University, Rutgers University, State University of New York, Queens College, Brooklyn College and La Guardia Community College.

The police department even went as far as to send an undercover agent to Buffalo, New York on a white rafting trip where he recorded students’ names and made notes in police intelligence reports of how many times they prayed, states the TIME magazine. Undercover agents also went to Muslim student organization websites every day, where they recorded the names of every individual who was in charge of updating these websites. The NYPD’s Cyber Intelligence unit have basically made it their daily routine to visit blogs, websites and forums from various Muslim Student Associations

According to  an NYPD spokesman, the police wanted to get an idea on what exactly was going on inside the Muslim Student Associations. The spokesman also mentioned that 12 people arrested or convicted on terrorism charges in the United States were once members of Muslim Student Associations.

Many people have strongly disapproved this investigation; according to Yale president Richard Levin, the university police department was unaware that the whole investigation was going on. He also went on to say that “police surveillance based on religion, nationality, or peacefully expressed political opinions is antithetical to the values of Yale and the academic community.”

Local officials and the Connecticut chapter of Council on America-Islamic Relations called for Governor Dannel P. Mallory to investigate this manner. Rutgers University called for the NYPD to investigate this activity of their own manner. Even the Association of Muslim American Lawyers has called for the New York Attorney General to investigate. The Muslim Student Association of the United States and Canada has expressed strong disapproval; according to the head president Zahir Lateef,

“MSA national has always been an organization willing to work alongside law enforcement agencies to help keep our communities safe. However, we believe that NYPD has clearly overstepped the boundaries when it began spying on average American Muslim college students.”

Since the reporting of this incident, many civil liberty groups and nearly three dozen of congress members have called for the Justice Department to investigate. The New York attorney general has also been asked to take a look at this case.

I personally believe, as a member of the MSA here at BenU, that such actions by the NYPD express a sense of both prejudice and a threat to constitutional rights. The MSA is simply a religious organization on campus geared towards establishing spiritual growth in Muslims on campus, as well as educating others on the religion of Islam. Ironically, the NYPD’s actions show that groups like MSA are necessary on campus to break the baseless stereotyping of the Muslim community.