Archive for Ethnic Profiling

King of Bollywood Detained in the US….Again

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2012 by loonwatch

Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan

India boasts the largest film industry in the world, and Shahrukh Khan is one of Bollywood’s biggest stars. The Muslim actor was recently detained at a US airport–for the second time in three years.

The incident caused a stir in India and once again raised questions of ethnic profiling, but Khan seemed to take it in stride. Later when addressing students at Yale University, he quipped:

“Yes it always happens, it’s nice. Whenever I start feeling arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America.”

“The immigration guys kick the stars out of stardom,” said Khan, who boasted of some small victories when he was questioned under detention, such as fibbing about his height.

“The next time I’m gonna be more adventurous. What colour are you? I’m gonna say white,” Khan said.

What’s in a name?

Editorial, The National

Shah Rukh Khan has more Facebook fans than Tom Cruise (2.58 million to 1.79 million) and has acted in more films (78) than most Hollywood A listers do in a lifetime. And yet, he still can’t get through immigration in New York without trouble.

During a weekend visit to the US to be honoured at Yale University, Khan was detained for two hours at the small regional airport in White Plains, NY. Were this the king of Bollywood’s first run-in with American border policy it might have been a mere inconvenience. Coming after a similar detention in 2009, it looks like a trend.

US officials, clearly embarrassed, defended their screening of Khan by rejecting allegations of profiling. As State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday, Khan was less “detained” than he was “simply delayed”. But anyone with a Muslim-sounding name who has travelled to the US since September 11 2001 will find this explanation unsatisfying.

Two US administrations in a row, one Republican and one Democratic, have subordinated everything else, often including common sense, to an obsession with security.

Nor has this been done intelligently: Islamophobia has been in practice – though not, at least, in theory – a frequent element of this policy. Combined with American ignorance of the rest of the world, that leads to incidents like this one, ludicrous if they weren’t so damaging.

******

The Daily Show, following the prior incident in 2009:

Michael Powell: Police Eyes Hovering Over Muslims

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

NYPD

“In our society, government is supposed to be public and you’re supposed to have a private life,” Moustafa Bayoumi, an English professor at Brooklyn College, said. “We’ve flipped that on its head.”

Police Eyes Hovering Over Muslims

By MICHAEL POWELL (NewYorkTimes)

Hello to you, and to whoever might be spying on us tonight.

This is how some Muslim New Yorkers have grown accustomed to opening meetings, on campus and at mosques from Steinway Street in Queens to Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Their assumption is that someone is always listening for hints of frustration and anger and disloyalty.

And that the listener works for the New York Police Department.

“In our society, government is supposed to be public and you’re supposed to have a private life,” Moustafa Bayoumi, an English professor at Brooklyn College, said. “We’ve flipped that on its head.”

The temptation is to dismiss such fears as post-9/11 paranoia. But The Associated Press, in a startling series, and the dependable Leonard Levitt, who writes the NYPD Confidential Web site, have put substantial meat on the bone of these suspicions.

They found that undercover officers, known as rakers, infiltrated hundreds of mosques; that a secret demographic unit compiled extensive dossiers on where Muslim New Yorkers eat, work, type on computers and transfer money to relatives; and that even imams who worked closely and courageously with the police have found themselves spied on and listed as “suspects.”

The Police Department’s reach extends to India, Pakistan and the Middle East, and less exotically to New Jersey, where undercover police cells have taken roost. And the department works with the F.B.I. and, more controversially, the C.I.A. in a way that sounds less fraternal than like a blood marriage.

Recently, the C.I.A. sent what The A.P. described as “one of its most senior clandestine officers” to work at One Police Plaza. It is highly unusual and troubling for the C.I.A. to work so closely with a police department.

So how should we parse these deeply unsettling findings? We live in an age of moral murk. It is to diminish none of the power of The A.P.’s work to acknowledge that some revelations fall into moral shadow rather than a Manichean play of pitch darkness and light.

Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly vibrates with certitude. He watched those towers transformed into calamitous clouds of dust. He learned of profound federal intelligence failures and bristles with a determination not to go there again.

“We’re paid to think the unthinkable,” Mr. Kelly told the City Council at a hearing 11 days ago. “We want to know how individuals traveling here communicate and conceal themselves. We go where the leads take us.”

I get that. The word “if” dominated our lives for many months after 9/11. Shortly afterward, my wife and I decided not to send our son to a fine public middle school in Lower Manhattan, for fear of having him too far removed from our Brooklyn home if. …

And I have felt a bubbling up of impatience with some religious leaders. The Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn was briefly home to the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, who helped plot the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, and since then other radicals are reported to have passed through. Does anyone there tend the door?

Councilman Brad Lander is one of those wrestling thoughtfully with such questions. But as he put pointed questions to Mr. Kelly at the hearing, the answers were illuminating in not terribly comforting ways.

It sounds, Mr. Lander said, as if you’re engaged in religious and ethnic profiling.

The commissioner shrugged. “I wouldn’t believe everything that I read,” he replied.

This fell well short of candor, which is unfortunate at a time when the police brass ask us to give them something like blind trust in their intentions. Afterward, an A.P. reporter asked, point-blank, Can you point to specific factual inaccuracies in our reporting?

And the commissioner replied: No.

This pattern recurs. Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, has a tendency to emphatically deny what has certifiably happened, whether the spying on and locking up of demonstrators for days at the Republican National Convention, or these recent revelations.

Credibility is like sand flowing through an hourglass. It runs out.

Professor Bayoumi rides subways and elevators and understands terrible possibilities. “I understand there need to be investigations,” he said. “But to base it on religious beliefs and what someone says at a meeting, rather than on actual leads …”

He paused, frustrated. “It weakens the bonds in a community and corrodes trust. Is that useful?”

E-mail: powellm@nytimes.com

Terrorism Act: ‘They asked me to keep an eye on the Muslim community’

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by loonwatch

From The Guardian:

People from ethnic minorities are up to 42 times more likely than white people to be the target of a counter-terrorism power which allows the stopping and searching of the innocent yet grants them fewer rights than suspected criminals, official figures seen by the Guardian show.

The power is contained in schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows policeto stop people at ports and airports for up to nine hours without the need for reasonable suspicion that they are involved in any crime.

But the rabbit hole goes deeper: MI5 officers are randomly stopping brown people “without the need for reasonable suspicion that they are involved in any crime”, then threatening to charge them with “crazy allegations” that they are terrorists unless they agree to become informants and spies.  If these allegations were true, why doesn’t the MI5 ever charge these people with a crime and give them a fair trial, or at least a farcical military tribunal?

Here is the article, again from The Guardian:

Terrorism Act: ‘They asked me to keep an eye on the Muslim community’

Asians tell of being targeted and cajoled by officers from MI5 and special branch

Asif Ahmed, 28, describes how he was detained and asked to spy:

Watch the video here

Just after landing at Edinburgh airport on 11 April 2010 Asif Ahmed was met by plainclothes officers and taken away from his wife. He was about to turn from model citizen into a terror suspect, one of 85,000 people who met a similar fate that year.

Officers met the couple just after they got off the flight from Stansted and told them Ahmed needed to come with them for a “normal check”.

The couple were returning from a weekend break and Ahmed saw no reason why he might be suspected of anything. Indeed, after London was attacked by terrorists in July 2005, Ahmed worked for the mayor of London and in Scotland to improve relations between Muslims and the rest of the population.

He was taken to a room by two officers who told him they were from special branch, a police department that deals in intelligence and security matters. Ahmed, 28, was told he was being questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

When he asked why, an officer replied: “No reason, it is just a random stop.” Ahmed told them they had stopped the only two people on the flight who looked like Muslims.

They said they did not know he was Muslim, which he did not believe.

The officers Ahmed remembers were detectives – a sergeant and a constable. They did not give their names but did give their identification numbers.

Ahmed says he felt compelled to answer their questions: “I had no choice, I was told I had no right to refuse.” He says the officers told him that if he exercised the right to remain silent, he could be detained further and eventually face jail.

Ahmed says he was questioned about his job, where he prayed, the Muslim groups he was active in. He was asked for a definition of extremism and what he would do if he found out someone was going to carry out an act of terrorism. He got the answer to that correct: he would tell the police.

In another room his wife was questioned. She was upset about being asked details about her sister, who was seriously ill at the time. Ahmed says the policemen interviewing him kept saying that he and his wife, studying for a PhD in political science, were “interesting people”. Then one of the officers asked if he would become a spy: “They asked if I would like to work with special branch, to keep an eye on the Muslim community in Edinburgh … They asked me three times. They said do it covertly.” He refused.

A similar scene played out at Stansted on 31 December 2007. Abdullah, a youth worker from east London, had returned from a Haj tour in Saudi Arabia with a tour group. “I was told that there was a problem with my passport and two white men in dark suits approached me and said that they needed to talk to me.”

They were police officers and he was taken to a room: “I was told that I had been stopped under terrorism-related legislation … I was given a sheet of paper that basically said that they were allowed by law to do this to me and I needed to comply with questioning.”

He was asked about his family, how his trip had been paid for, which mosque he prayed at and if he had “any additional training or skills”.

His mobile phones were taken away and searched. Then his questioning was disrupted by the arrival of another man, who said he was called Matthew, and a woman. “They were casually dressed and took over from the previous two men. They introduced themselves as MI5. I was concerned why MI5 would want to speak to me and listened attentively.”

In a written statement Abdullah says the officers quizzed him and said his “name had come up in circles discussing terrorist activity and it was up to me to prove where I stood. They wanted my help in tackling potential terrorists and related activity”.

He added: “They showed me some photos of a number individuals. I knew most of them well as they were friends and local associates. Some I didn’t recognise and one I wasn’t too sure about.

“This was the one they pressed me on. They also wanted details about the individuals that I knew, which I provided. I tried to be as co-operative as possible and in the end they took my number and left me theirs.

“Strangely, Matthew insisted that I save it discreetly under work or taxi. I was then escorted out and was free to leave.”

Abdullah believes MI5 wanted to turn him into a spy. “Matthew called me several times to arrange a follow-up meeting. He said he wanted me to help him in the work MI5 does. We had a phone discussion and I said that I thought that what they were trying to do was noble but I had reservations about the way in which they operate on an ethical level and was uncomfortable with that. He insisted that I meet him and said that ‘it was in my long-term interest’ to do so.”

A meeting was arranged for 22 January 2008 outside a tube station.

“I was told to meet Matthew outside Farringdon station but was directed by phone from there to a nearby location and Matthew walked with me to a hotel.”

He said he was asked about “my personal and work details – past and present. I mentioned here that I had visited Egypt in the summer of 2004 for six months to study Arabic.

“I was asked about my future plans – I mentioned that I planned to return to Egypt shortly to continue with my Arabic and Islamic studies.

“He mentioned that he really wanted me to help him with the photos. I said that I had already told him what I knew.

“In the end Matthew said that he wanted to meet me again but I wasn’t so sure any more as I could see that something was wrong.”

Despite telling MI5 he was not interested, the barrage of calls and texts pleading for a meeting just kept coming.

After that “Matthew called me a few times to arrange a further meeting. He gave me a mobile number (07522 055 947) but I decided that I didn’t want to have any more contact.”

By mid-February Abdullah was fed up. “I texted Matthew to explicitly say I wasn’t interested in any further contact and for him not to contact me anymore,” he said. “I also mentioned that if I did have any information about any threat, terrorist or otherwise, that I would naturally report it to the police. I then called my phone provider and changed my number.”

In May 2008, Matthew obtained the new number and called again. He wanted information, which Abdullah said he did not have.

But the MI5 officer, Abdullah alleges, made a threat. “He said I needed to see him before I travelled to Egypt, for my own good. Otherwise I would find it difficult over there because they had ‘international partners’.”

Abdullah said: “He was threatening me – if I go to Egypt, I might be arrested and ill treated. I took it as a threat. They could have me arrested, and tortured there. It was quite clear.”

There is no independent evidence to support the claims that police and MI5 are abusing schedule 7 stop and search powers by trying to turn innocent people into informers.

But there is a consistency of testimony from those who have been stopped and pressured to inform.

Solicitor Alastair Lyon, who has advised dozens affected by schedule 7, said: “This is a power which has sowed fear in the most vulnerable of our communities. The security services and special branch are operating in an unregulated and unchecked way without legal observers, to put pressure on people. This is a legal black hole allowing them to question thousands of people about very personal details without any of the usual human rights safeguards.” He added: “It has created a legal black hole where personal and sensitive information is, on pain of imprisonment, forced from individuals who are told that in effect they have no rights. It is a complete abuse of authority.”

For youth worker Mohammed, the link between his being stopped under schedule 7 and other approaches is clear. For a year security service officers tried to recruit him, approaching him at home, in the street, even as he ate at a tandoori restaurant. One of them, called Jeff, showed him pictures of various people.

Then on 5 November 2008, he was stopped at Stansted airport while returning from Spain and taken to a room. Mohammed said: “Then Tim came in. [He] showed me a badge and said he’s from MI5. He spoke about Jeff. ‘He’s been trying to meet me but you haven’t responded,’ said Tim.

“He reminded me that he is working for my best interest: he doesn’t want this to come out, doesn’t want for my workplace to become dirtied, my reputation – as if I’ve got something to hide and I’ve done something wrong in the first place.”

He added: “We know that you went to a terror camp, transited in Dubai and changed passports. We know you went to Dubai in 2006 and met AQ figures.”

Mohammed said: “I told him these were crazy allegations and how would they have this info anyway.”

Tim said: “We don’t need to go there ourselves, we have info from locals.”

Mohammed was let go with the promise that Tim would be in touch. He did indeed call several days later, but Mohammed did not reply.

Does this “Gestapo crap” remind anyone of this:

Senator James Inhofe’s un-American Call to Racially and Ethnically Profile Passengers

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2010 by loonwatch
The un-American Senator James InhofeThe un-American Senator James Inhofe

The Republican senator from Oklahoma has called for passengers to be “racially and ethnically profiled,” because according to him, “all terrorists [or at least 90% of them] are Muslims.”  Yes, that’s true: all terrorists are Muslims…except of course the 94% that aren’t.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fQnFJ9RMws&feature=player_embedded 300 250]

Does the good senator not know the ugly history of racial profiling?  Based on this same logic, white racists justify the racial profiling of blacks.  A white supremacist on the white nationalist websiteStormfront.org says:

Blacks looking ghetto in an affluent neighborhood should send up flags. For some reason, I doubt that they are there to do the plumbing, though I am sure they wouldn’t mind relieving you of a few of your more valuable items.

These white nationalists ask, just like Inhofe: “why should my white wife be considered on the same level as a ‘ghetto’ black guy?”

That racist forum is in fact full of calls for a return to racial profiling.  And they justify their belief based on “practicality” just like Inhofe and other loons do.  These white nationalists argue that according to the Department of Justice, blacks are seven times more likely to commit murder than whites:

Racial differences exist, with blacks disproportionately represented among homicide victims and offenders
In 2005, homicide victimization rates for blacks were 6 times higher than the rates for whites.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm

…In 2005, offending rates for blacks were more than 7 times higher than the rates for whites……………..

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm

In another thread, they argue that blacks commit fifty times the number of violent crimes as whites.  There are also other points brought forth by such people, such as the fact that one in twenty adult black men are incarcerated.  Or that “more than three times the number of black Americans live in prison as in college dorms.” Or that over 55% of offenders admitted under the age of 18 are black.And on and on…All justifications to legalize racial profiling.

So if you justify profiling on airplanes by arguing that 90% of terrorists are Muslims (which is false anyways), then by that same logic you ought to be OK with profiling blacks, especially those “ghetto blacks” who happen to be walking through the suburb.  Whatever arguments you use to justify profiling of Arabs/Muslims can be used for blacks…What?  You’re not OK with that?  Then why is it OK to do that to Muslims or Arabs?

I am an American, and I oppose these un-American calls to racially and ethnically profile.  I don’t believe in such discrimination, and know that it is prohibited by the fourth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution (that annoying document that right wingers always try to circumvent).  If you don’t believe in the ideals of this country, then kindly leave.  You, Senator Inhofe, are un-American.

And if you want to lament about your wife being pulled aside for extra searching, maybe think about changing the war mongering policy that has been shoved upon us by the right wing.  You can’t reallykill hundreds of thousands of Muslims, and not expect there to be a handful of disgruntled Muslims who seek revenge.

I know that people are annoyed by the added costs of airport security.  Well, I have a very low cost solution: the U.S. would save trillions of dollars if it withdrew all troops from foreign lands, and stopped aiding the state of Israel.  (Then put the money into universal health care.)  That would take away the motivations of Islamic extremists.  But I get it: you don’t want to do that…then stop complaining when that policy ends up fueling terrorism.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too.