At a Glance
Plaintiffs agreed to settle the case on April 5, 2018.
- Baher Azmy
- Omar Farah
Muslim Advocates and Gibbons, P.C.
Hassan v. City of New York is a federal lawsuit filed against the City of New York that challenges the New York Police Department’s suspicionless surveillance of Muslim Americans in New Jersey solely because of their Muslim identity. In a Pulitzer-Prize-winning series of stories released in 2011, the Associated Press revealed that after the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD established a sprawling and secretive human mapping and suspicionless surveillance program that targeted Muslim American communities in New York, New Jersey, and beyond. Hassan v. City of New York is the first case ever brought on behalf of Muslim Americans who were unlawfully targeted and surveilled under this program. The case is part of CCR’s broader effort to end warrantless government surveillance of civilians, particularly those who are being targeted on the basis of their Muslim identity or activism.
The original complaint was filed by Muslim Advocates in the District Court of New Jersey and joined by CCR. We are asking the courts to declare this surveillance program unconstitutional and order the NYPD to immediately stop spying on our clients. We also ask the court to order the NYPD to destroy any records that have been surreptitiously generated about our clients and to award financial compensation for the economic harms that have resulted from the NYPD’s discriminatory conduct.
Our client Zaimah Abdur-Rahim was surveilled by the NYPD because she operates a grade school for Muslim girls. NYPD officers recorded details about the school, such as the fact that it was run from Abdur-Rahim’s home and that its students were predominantly African-American.
There is no dispute that the NYPD’s goal under this program – both ambitious and chilling – was to create a human mapping system that monitored Muslims all along the Eastern Seaboard and beyond. No Muslim individual or entity appears to have been beyond suspicion. The NYPD monitored and/or infiltrated almost every aspect of Muslim life, from mosques and student associations, to halal butcher shops and restaurants, to private citizens. Internal NYPD documents confirm that the surveillance program was not tied to suspicion of criminality and, in fact, produced zero leads to terrorist activity after more than a decade in operation. The documents also show that the NYPD used the racial or ethnic background of Muslim Americans as a proxy to identify and target adherents of the Muslim faith, listing 28 “ancestries of interest” that are – to the NYPD – deserving of additional suspicion and scrutiny. Among those ancestries of interests are Egyptian, Pakistani, Somali, Sudanese, and an array of other Asian, Middle Eastern, and African ancestries that together comprise roughly 80 percent of the world’s Muslim population. Seemingly oblivious to the dark historical irony, the NYPD also listed “American Black Muslim” among the “ancestries of interest.”
The NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program contravenes decades of civil rights precedent and challenges bedrock constitutional principles: among them equal protection under the law and the First Amendment guarantee of the freedom of religion.