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Anger at LA police plan to 'map' Muslims



LOS ANGELES (AFP) — A plan by the Los Angeles Police Department's counter-terrorism bureau to map Muslim groups in the city has angered civil rights activists and community leaders, it was reported Friday.


The Los Angeles Times reported that the LAPD wants to create a map of Muslim groups in order to help communities avoid the influence of radicals seeking to incite "violent, ideologically-based extremism."

"We are seeking to identify at-risk communities," LAPD deputy chief Michael Downing told the Times. "We are looking for communities and enclaves based on risk factors that are likely to become isolated.

"We want to know where the Pakistanis, Iranians and Chechens are so we can reach out to those communities."


The Times quoted Downing as saying that the Muslim Public Affairs Council had indicated support for the program "in concept."

The group's executive director Salam Al-Marayati told the newspaper it wanted to meet with the LAPD next week to discuss the issue.

"We will work with the LAPD and give them input, while at the same time making sure that people's civil liberties are protected," said Al-Marayati, commending Downing's "forthright engagement with the Muslim community."


However the plan was condemned by other Muslim groups, with the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California accusing the LAPD of "racial profiling."

"We certainly reject this idea completely," the council's executive-director Shakeel Syed told the Times. "This stems basically from this presumption that there is homogenized Muslim terrorism that exists among us."


The Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations also criticized the plan. Council official Hussam Ayloush said mapping "basically turns the LAPD officers into religious political analysts, while their role is to fight crime and enforce the laws."


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and community groups have a letter to the LAPD expressing "grave concerns" about the program, reports said.

"The mapping of Muslim communities . . . seems premised on the faulty notion that Muslims are more likely to commit violent acts than people of other faiths," the Times quoted the letter as saying.


According to reports an estimated 500,000 Muslims live in the Greater Los Angeles area, the country's second-biggest concentration outside of New York.





www.the aacc.org



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