New York: A group of eight Muslims has filed a federal lawsuit against the New York City Police Department demanding that it bring an end to its surveillance practice initiated in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks of spying on mosques and businesses managed by the community.
The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in federal court in New Jersey near New York, is the first major legal challenge to NYPD's spy operations.
The eight plaintiffs claim that NYPD's surveillance, which has been carried on for years, of Muslim businesses and mosques throughout the Northeast denigrated the Islamic faith, violated the constitutional rights of countless Muslim-Americans and was discriminatory in nature.
Filed by advocacy group Muslim Advocates on behalf of the group of New Jersey residents, the suit calls for a "declaratory judgment" which labels specific surveillance of Muslims based on faith unconstitutional and seeks a court order prohibiting the NYPD from future surveillance of Muslims based on faith.
It also wants that records compiled by the NYPD during its spy operations be destroyed.
"The NYPD programme is founded upon a false and constitutionally impermissible premise: that Muslim religious identity is a legitimate criterion for selection of law-enforcement surveillance targets," the lawsuit said.
"What makes America great is that everyone is treated equally under the law. These plaintiffs are ordinary citizens going about their lives who law enforcement spied on simply because of their faith," Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said in a statement.