Interfaith Alliance, Sikh Coalition File Brief Arguing NYPD Surveillance Jeopardizes Religious Freedom

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WASHINGTON – Today Interfaith Alliance and Sikh Coalition filed an amicus brief in the case Hassan v. City of New York, which is before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The case concerns the New York Police Department’s program of targeted surveillance against Muslims, Muslim community centers and houses of worship in New Jersey. The Sikh Coalition and Interfaith Alliance assert that this program raises serious First Amendment concerns and jeopardizes America’s promise of religious freedom. Interfaith Alliance and Sikh Coalition were joined in filing the brief by more than 20 other organizations representing America’s wide spectrum of religious backgrounds.

“The targeting and surveillance of the American Muslim community should be deeply disturbing for all those who cherish religious liberty.” Said Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance. “Our religious exercise cannot truly be free if we are concerned that our choices are being carefully monitored. Our houses of worship cannot be places of learning and spiritual growth when there is a credible fear that they may be infiltrated by law enforcement. Our religious leaders cannot serve as the prophetic voices that have shaped America for generations when they are punished or intimidated because of their beliefs.”

“Imagine worshipping while wondering if law enforcement is peering over your shoulder,” said, Amardeep Singh, Program Director of the Sikh Coalition. “The surveillance of a whole community without regard for individual culpability is the definition of ‘collective punishment.’ If it can happen to the American Muslim community it can happen to any faith community. We hope the courts will agree that our values and freedoms as a nation are irretrievably compromised by the overbroad surveillance in this case.”
Interfaith Alliance, a national organization whose membership makes up over 75 different faith traditions, works to combat religious discrimination and to defend the religious freedom of all Americans. The Sikh Coalition is the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization.

The full brief can be found here: