posted 2011-11-18 15:11:35

Respect Our Rights!

A student speaks out about profiling

Luthfun Nahar—Contributing Writer

As reported by the Associated Press and condemned by Hunter College chapter of the Professional Staff Congress, the NYPD is performing surveillance on Muslim students. This should be an alarming call for all CUNY students and professors, Muslim or not, to speak out against racism. The New York Police Department has been infiltrating Muslim organizations and communities in the name of national security. CUNY campuses have been prime targets, and the administration has allegedly cooperated by handing over students’ records to the Police. Taken within the context of anti-immigrant attacks and sentiment, the NYPD’s spying is racist and dangerous to the basic human rights of all CUNY students and workers.

The policy essentially profiles students who are Muslim. The unethical logic is as follows: Muslims are terrorists or prone to terrorism. Arabs and South Asians should then be the prime targets of the cops. This is more than stereotyping; it is a racist ideology justifying assaults on people based on their religion and/or skin color.

Spying on Muslim students affects all people, of all creeds. This surveillance is part of the holistic perpetuation of a fear of the “other” among workers. Attacks on Muslim students are the canary in a coalmine. When any one group is attacked, it serves as an example to discipline the rest. Take Alabama’s HB 56 immigration law, which sent Latino workers fleeing their schools, homes, and churches. This has sent fear, and with it compliance, through many communities, particularly immigrant communities.

Is it a coincidence that these oppressive policies are becoming more prevalent during harsh economic times and increasing war? Nationalism is an important tool of control in these circumstances. It prevents the 99% from uniting against the 1%. The Muslim community is serving as a scapegoat, a role that is directly related to NYPD surveillance, enforcing nationalism and racist sentiments throughout all common people. The continued racist ideology, which presents Arabs and South Asians as backward and malfunctioning without U.S. interference (surveillance), is no surprise given our proposed troop buildup in the Persian Gulf region and Afghanistan.

Taking all that into account, it is crucial for CUNY students and professors—Muslim or not, South Asian or Arab or otherwise—to take a stance against NYPD infiltration in our campuses. George Orwell wrote about a world of surveillance, nationalism, and perpetual war. As more students are harassed, jailed, and deported based on racist ideas, we must act to counter the realization of 1984 that our world is becoming.