In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MSA West Condemns LAPD's Muslim Community Mapping Project
Muslim Students Stand United with All People of Conscience Against Community Profiling
(Los Angeles, CA, 11/13/07) – Muslim Student Association West (MSA West), a grassroots umbrella organization representing Muslim student groups from across the West coast, condemns the Los Angeles Police Department's proposed initiative to map Muslim communities in an effort to identify "extremist" influences. MSA West stands united with the ACLU, CAIR, Shura Council and Muslim Advocates in an open letter addressing the concerns of the Muslim community regarding the program. MSA West believes that the program does nothing to counter criminal and terrorist activity in the United States; rather, it targets groups and individuals based on their religious affiliation and creates unwarranted suspicion and demonization of the Muslim community. To have a systematic program of racial and religious profiling in any community goes against the very ideals of the Constitution, and attacks the civil rights and liberties of all American citizens.
Michael P. Downing, Deputy Chief of the LAPD's Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau –in a testimony to the US Senate on October 30 – suggests that law enforcement's job is not "one of religious scholar or social worker " and yet states that there are those "political jihadist" who are " attempting to create division, alienation, and a sense of persecution in Muslim communities" and that they "are the nemesis of community engagement..." facilitating "the radicalization process" and law enforcement must "elavate the moderate Muslim voice". The prevailing fear of homegrown terrorism has no concrete basis and cannot be used as justification for destroying protected freedoms. MSA West recognizes the obligation of the LAPD to secure Los Angeles, but vehemently stands against this initiative, which does nothing to further security but rather puts law enforcement in the precarious position of social worker, religious judge and jury, and analyst of political and social sentiments by utilizing a vague "moderate Muslim" litmus test. This is a gross violation of civil liberties that has been affecting minority communities.
The Qur'an says: "O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves...So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you be not just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed God is ever, with what you do, well Acquainted." (4:135)
Suwila Habib, MSA West Vice President, states that "All people of conscience must stand firmly against the LAPD proposal to map the Muslim community and we request them to sign the petition in order to show their opposition. We ask Chief Bratton to immediately withdraw the Mapping Program, which is an ill concieved plan that places suspicion on the Muslim community of Los Angeles. We fear that students will be unfairly targeted for expressing views outside of mainstream media- such as our complete opposition to the war in Iraq, continued denial of Human Rights to the Palestinian people under the brutal occupation, and our outspoken stance against the violation of civil rights of the Muslim community under the Patriot Act."
MSA West urges Muslim students and community members to stay informed about developments concerning LAPD's Muslim Community Mapping project. We also encourage Muslim students to engage their campuses in open dialogue about this issue.
MSA West is a cohesive coalition of Muslim students united for the sake of God, who aim to embody the concepts of unity, strength and activism. This statement is endorsed by Muslim Student Associations across the West Coast including, but not limited to: MSA Cypress College, MSA UC Berkeley, MSA Chaffey College, MSA CSU Northridge, MSA CSU Long Beach, MSA San Jose City College, MSU UC Irvine, MSA SJSU, MSA USC, MSA UC Los Angeles, MSA Mount San Antonio College, MSA Arizona State University, MSA UC San Diego, MSA CSU Fullerton, MSA UC Davis.
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