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After a long time of surveillance, Muslims wrestle over how a lot to share on-line


    Thirteen years in the past, Mosab Saadia accompanied his father to a mosque in Staten Island. He remembers that through the winter, after the final Isha prayer when his father had gone to fulfill Sheikh. Mosab remembers that he had grabbed a e-book from the bookshelf and sat all the way down to learn it. Then, a person she had by no means seen earlier than in her close-knit group got here as much as her and requested her, “What do you think of Hamas?”

    Sadia was surprised. He was solely 9 years outdated.

    The man was suspected to be an informer, though this was by no means confirmed. (Many by no means are.) And though this was Mosab’s first encounter with the watchdog, it will not be his final. It’s a standard story amongst Muslims in New York—and in an period of oversharing, that have has had a wierd impact. Many, like Saadia, have turn out to be cautious of claiming an excessive amount of on-line, cautious of others just like the one she met that day. A youthful era of Muslims, wanting to stop out of concern of surveillance, has taken a extra vocal stance. But for each, the expertise of social media is inseparable from the sensation of being seen – and the expertise of being a Muslim in New York City after 9/11.

    Since 2002, the NYPD has religiously profiled and surveyed Muslims in New York City and neighboring states. In trying to find “radical”. The NYPD Intelligence Division mapped Muslim communities, carried out photograph and video surveillance, recruited informers, tracked those that modified their names, and created intelligence databases, according to the ACLU, in 2011, Associated Press exposes extent of NYPD surveillance, figuring out that the NYPD “subjects entire neighborhoods to surveillance and investigation, often because of the ethnicity of the residents, not because of any allegation of crimes.” in 2012In testimony, the NYPD acknowledged that the Demographics Unit — its title for the interior monitoring group — by no means took any management or launched a terrorism investigation in its years of operation.

    In 2014, the demographic unit was closed, however it nonetheless casts an extended shadow over the town’s Muslim communities. Sadia is now the Director of Outreach at Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York, and recollects numerous different incidents the place she felt she was being surveyed. He has requested random folks what his opinion is on the caliphate; What does he consider Israel? Some of those that requested him such questions had been later confirmed by the mosques to be informers.

    “It’s just someone you don’t know who they are. You’ve never seen them and nobody knows them and they come inside the mosque and start asking really weird questions. And you’re just sitting there, really I’m not sure how to respond,” he added ledge, “In the times we live in, a normal person doesn’t ask such questions.”

    Even although he attended an Islamic faculty, Saadia says he was all the time cautious with what he stated in school. In school, he realized to “speak smart”. Even after commencement, he’s not as lively on social media as folks of his age.

    “Even after I created a social media account, there was always this rule that ‘you don’t talk about politics on social media, you don’t talk about what happens in other countries on social media.’ Partly because of the US government and its history of trapping people and lying about it,” he stated. “I don’t share many details of my personal life online. That’s just my way of protecting me. It’s not like it Isn’t there and can’t be found, but why should I make it easier for someone who’s tracking me?”

    The dialog round Muslim surveillance is altering, however solely slowly, says Anneki Reikkonen, a researcher in expertise and the National Security Program with the Center for a New American Security. “Contending terrorism is a profession, it is a specialization. People spend their lives getting PhDs and getting really specialized knowledge on very specific groups and methods of network analysis,” Rikonnen says. “Twenty years later, there is no such thing as a excuse for this widespread surveillance and concentrating on of individuals on the idea of faith. There’s no excuse in any respect. ,

    Twenty-four-year-old Haris Khan, a group organizer and board member on the Muslim Democratic Club of New York (MDCNY), is extra lively on social media than Sadia. When Khan was a pupil at City College in New York, he heard from lots of his classmates about their experiences and the way frightened they had been. During his time in school, he discovered himself operating away from his religion in public in an effort to not be so remoted, attempt to slot in, assimilate. Eventually he realized that there was no level in retaining quiet.

    Khan stated, “Trying to fit in the issues or remain silent… Even if you do all this, you are still called a terrorist.” “So why can we trouble to fake that we aren’t purely Muslim? Why can we even care about not being our genuine selves? They are going to weaponize our id by any means obligatory. We can even use it to prepare and manage and communicate our reality.”

    Khan works within the political enviornment, and even that does not cease him from publicly flaunting his opinion on-line. After the raid on the historic Al-Aqsa Mosque In Jerusalem throughout Ramadan this 12 months, Khan posted a tweet about how he was feeling. Soon, folks tweeted him again saying that he needs to be fired from his authorities job as a result of, as they noticed, “I have a political opinion about ending apartheid.”

    Still, he sees Twitter as a small worth to pay for giving him house to overtly share his ideas. “I am not afraid to be surveyed for my attitude, for my desire to see a just world,” Khan stated. “They can copy and paste my tweets and my posts. I’m who I’m. This is what my household has taught me. This is the group I belong to.”

    In 2012, Asad Dandiya, group program coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations New York (CAIR-NY), discovered that an individual she was mates with had been surveyed for seven months. The informant accompanied him and his mates to occasions, lectures, and even helped them ship meals to the homeless each night time. So when Dandiya realized that his pal was an informer on a regular basis, the betrayal was apparent. He recollects having anxiousness assaults and a continuing paranoia. The following 12 months, he joined A class action lawsuit against the NYPD Surveillance of Muslims, leading to new protections towards the follow.

    Ultimately, the expertise made Dandiya to worth his relationship with the group much more. “We have to keep each other safe.” he stated. “One of the intended effects of surveillance is to suppress your speech, to suppress your community activity, and essentially they want you not to be proactive. I always say do the reverse. Be as proactive and as possible.” Stay concerned, contact organizations that may aid you.”

    “And don’t be afraid,” he continued. “Because they want you to be afraid.”


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