Friday, November 16, 2007

Muslims welcome the removal of LAPD's mapping program

AlhamdulilAllah, it seems this ugly chapter is coming to a close. Still many questions left unanswered though...

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful


Los Angeles, CA, – 11/15/2007: The controversial Muslim ‘Mapping’ Plan of the Los Angeles Police Department is now “dead on arrival” according to Chief William Bratton.

“It is over and not just put on the side,” said Chief Bratton in a meeting with the Muslim leadership of Southern California on Thursday, November 15th. The meeting was moderated by Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, Arif Alikhan and attended by Deputy Chief Mike Downing.

Chief Bratton acknowledged the hurt and offense caused to Muslims and agreed to send a letter to the Muslim community announcing the official termination of the ‘mapping’ plan.

A major reason for the termination of the 'mapping' plan was the Muslim community’s vociferous opposition and active civic engagement in making themselves heard beyond Los Angeles. Muslim organizations demonstrated a strong unity of purpose and message on the issue of 'mapping' that led to a position of strength for Muslims in the meeting. Those involved in the initial phases of this controversy were the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Muslim Advocates and American Civil Liberties Union. Several other mosques and organizations joined in the common stand against the 'mapping' plan at the meeting.

Present at the press conference was also a large coalition of interfaith groups and social justice organizations whose continued support strengthened the Muslims' call for the withdrawal of the 'mapping' plan. The alliance with these groups proved instrumental in registering a strong voice to preserve American democratic values in our city government.

The Muslim organizations highlighted the pervasive culture of ignorance across the country in political and law enforcement circles contributing to misconceptions about Islam and Muslims that lead to short-sighted policy-making. In response, Chief Bratton suggested the establishment of a Muslim Forum for LAPD to directly interface with him and his senior command staff in pursuit of mutual understanding between law enforcement and the Muslim community. The Muslim leadership welcomed the idea and hopes the Forum will help to dispel the myths about Islam and Muslims and create a healthy dialogue with law enforcement.

Today, the people of Los Angeles spoke and the City of Los Angeles listened to the collective voice for justice and civil rights.

1 comment:

Zabie said...

Mapping is a Symptom of Profiling, while the Root Cause is in the Policy

Muslim American organizations along with the vast majority of civil society opposed the mapping plan considered by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Ideas like mapping don't occur in a vacuum but within a paradigm of treating Muslim American as suspects. That is the thinking of many on Capitol Hill, where the idea of profiling is tolerated and the notion of secret evidence against Muslim Americans is sanctioned. Until a clear debate takes place in our nation's capital on how to engage Muslim Americans in a healthy and transparent manner, then law enforcement agencies that take their cue from our political leaders in Washington will continue to propose ideas and implement plans that violate the trust of the Muslim American community.

In a meeting with LAPD Chief William Bratton, over 20 Muslim American leaders were reassured that no plan will move forward without the input and support of the Muslim community. Now it's time to reassure the Muslim American community, who continue to be viewed under a cloud of suspicion and to have their patriotism questioned. It's time that our political leaders, not just law enforcement, engage with Muslim Americans.

Mapping was an idea by the LAPD mentioned at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, co-chaired by Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME). They have had several hearings on radicalization. To date, the Senators have not invited a mainstream Muslim organization to testify and they have not offered a definition of radicalization. That vagueness leads policy-makers and policy-enforcers to define Muslim Americans rather than allowing us to define ourselves.

The most troubling aspect of this episode with the LAPD mapping plan is the sentiment among Muslim youth. They feel that they have to explain what they are not, i.e, radicals, rather than who they are, i.e. citizens contributing to the fabric of American society. The vast majority of Muslim Americans, young and old, are well-integrated and socio-economically successful. Let's keep it that way by challenging our policy-makers to dialogue with Muslim Americans.