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Readers sound off on racial-ethnic profiling

Photo by Jeffrey Beall/Flickr (Creative COmmons)


A post from Friday that featured five American Muslims discussing racial-ethnic profiling in light of the New York Police Department's Muslim profiling case, a report on FBI profiling and other recent news drew a long string of comments over the weekend, and the discussion among readers continues on the site.

The reactions have been surprisingly civil, considering. Some readers believe that law enforcement officials are within their rights to target specific ethnic communities for surveillance, while others hold firm that this kind of law enforcement action is an infringement on the civil rights of law-abiding Americans. Here's a taste of the discussion that's been taking place:

The first comment this weekend came from Jason Van Bemmel, who wrote:

How do we expect anti-terror law enforcement to protect us from future terrorist attacks if they do not monitor communities most likely to have terrorists in them?  The terrorists who have attacked us and who have plotted to attack us are Muslims.  That doesn't mean that all Muslims are terrorists or even that most Muslims harbor or sympathize with terrorists.  However, if you're looking for Islamic terrorists, the place to watch is Islamic communities.  That's really just common sense and good police strategy.  We cannot realistically expect them to do otherwise.

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Five American Muslims on racial-ethnic profiling: 'This is my country. I feel insulted.'

Photo by Jeffrey Beall/Flickr (Creative COmmons)


Over the past several weeks, a growing number of law enforcement documents have surfaced pointing to the institutional profiling of Muslims in the decade after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. First, an Associated Press investigation revealed a large-scale New York Police Department effort to collect intelligence on Muslims in the New York area, with police conducted surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods, mosques and businesses, even checking out immigrants who changed their names to sound more American.

Also controversial has been the use of counterterrorism training materials by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, under fire for using materials portraying Muslims in a negative light. And late last month, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a report alleging that the FBI targeted specific ethnic communities across the United States based on race, ethnicity, religion and nationality for potential criminal investigation.

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