November 28th, 2007 13:10 EST
Muslims, Sikhs Concerned About FDNY Warrantless Searches
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), together with the Association of Muslim American Lawyers (AMAL) and the Sikh Coalition, today expressed deep concern about a federal testing program that uses firefighters to gather intelligence for security purposes.
SEE: Partnership Between Firefighters, Homeland Security Draws Concern
The program, initiated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last December, trains Fire Department of New York (FDNY) firefighters and inspectors to identify "suspicious" behavior or items that may indicate terrorist activity or planning.
In a letter to FDNY Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, the groups wrote in part:
"Undoubtedly, firefighters should inform law enforcement authorities of activity deemed `suspicious` under a reasonable person standard. However, FDNY`s partnership with the government as intelligence agents may compromise resident`s trust in firefighters and consequently threaten the fire department`s standing as a group that our city holds in high esteem."
The letter also expressed the groups` privacy concerns: " ¦[W]e believe that terrorism-related intelligence training of the FDNY may serve as `back door` route to warrantless searches by the government."
CAIR, America`s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif, 732-429-4268, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza N. Ali,
212.870.2002 E-Mail: email@example.com