Casting Suspicion on All American Muslims

Posted on August 24, 2007

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 Rafik Beekun

Please click here to download the report, “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” from the New York City Police Department’s website. It alledges to describe ‘how ordinary people in the West can become radicalized and followers of what the report calls a jihadist ideology.’

This report is worrisome because it casts suspicion on all U.S. Muslims in terms of what it associates day-to-day Muslims with.  Independent of the analysis in the report, it lists sites that are likely to be visited by any American Muslim as radicalization ‘incubators.’ As CAIR indicated in a recent response, “the sites listed include mosques, cafes, cab driver hangouts, student associations, nongovernmental organizations, butcher shops, and book stores.”

“Despite raising suspicions against ordinary Muslims and the places they visit, the report itself states: ‘There is no useful profile to assist law enforcement or intelligence to predict who will follow this trajectory of radicalization. Rather, the individuals who take this course begin as ‘unremarkable’ from various walks of life.’

“So while labeling almost every American Muslim as a potential terrorist, the report’s authors admit that their findings offer no useful way to identify real terror suspects.

“The report also claims that signs of radicalization include positive changes in personal behavior such as giving up smoking, drinking and gambling. It also makes similar claims about those who wear Islamic attire or a religiously-recommended beard.

“Is Islamic attire or giving up bad habits, which is something recommended by leaders of all faiths, now to be regarded as suspicious behavior?”

 “American Muslims and their institutions have been working closely with law enforcement officials nationwide on proactive measures to keep our country safe and secure. Muslims are working every day to build a more secure America.”

Reading the NYPD report, a well-known activist of another faith based community noted for example that it states that ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) is considered too moderate or mainstream for radical groups or individuals. But, the report suggests that ICNA still recommends questionable theological readings to its clients or faith seekers. As this activist writes, “I personally find these suggestive characterizations inflammatory and irresponsible. At face value it’s a “damned if you do” and “damned if you don’t” conclusion. Is the NYPD actually suggesting that, ICNA is a mainstream Muslim organization which doesn’t meet with the self-stated expectations of at least one extremist wanting to be indoctrinated – but, it is suspect anyway because of what theological (not terrorist or violence endorsing) writings appear on a ICNA reading list. This guilt by presupposition or association is completely irresponsible in my opinion.”

Muslims decry NYPD terror report

BY LAUREN MCSHERRY. lauren.mcsherry@newsday.com
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A14

A contingent of Long Island religious leaders and the Nassau branch of the American Civil Liberties Union yesterday decried a New York City Police Department report on religious radicalism, saying the document unfairly targets the Muslim community.

Habeeb Ahmed, Islamic Center of Long Island president, called for the police department to prevent terrorism without “trampling” the civil rights of minorities through racial profiling and surveillance. He is worried that Long Island residents traveling between Nassau and New York City could be singled out by the NYPD for racial profiling.

“Not all Muslims are potential terrorists,” he said at a news conference held by the Interfaith Alliance of Long Island at the State Supreme Court building in Garden City. “There are no easy solutions, but stereotyping American Muslims is not one of them.” […]

“The vast majority of American Muslims reject al-Qaida’s violent extremism, although younger Muslims are more accepting of violence in the defense of Islam,” the report states.

Ahmed faulted the report for relying heavily on news reports and not on the research of psychologists and sociologists. He said the report does not analyze terrorist acts carried out by non-Muslim groups, such as how Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols orchestrated the Oklahoma City bombing.

“There is terrorism in other segments of the population. There is no mention of that,” he said. “That is problematic. How is this 100 percent a Muslim problem?” [more]

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