With the deepening trust deficit between the American Muslim community—especially in the New York area—and law enforcement, how can figures of authority effectively engage with Muslims?

Figures of authority, particularly mayoral hopefuls, should publicly state their condemnation against the blatant bigotry perpetuated by the NYPD. In particular, I am deeply disappointed in Mayor Bloomberg's defense of the NYPD's spying on Muslim students. A mayor who cares about public safety should take a stance like Newark's [New Jersey] Mayor Cory Booker. Rather than merely distancing themselves from unwarranted surveillance, college administration and politicians should follow his lead and call for an independent NYPD probe now. Under the guise of protecting Americans, the NYPD has ostracized Muslims by equating Islam with terrorism for far too long. I hope people of all faiths, university administrations, and Americans in general can stand in solidarity with Muslim students and all affected communities of biased policing.

How should American Muslims practice their faith and live their lives in light of these events?

American Muslims must continue to practice Islam and speak freely. No one should have to succumb to fear tactics and hide their identity. We should learn to respect each other and create opportunities for debate in a safe space. As a politics major, I understand that healthy discourse fosters understanding and offsets ignorance. Intolerant, biased forms of propaganda, such as "The Third Jihad," do not represent the history or values of Islam. American Muslims must seize this opportunity to speak in coalition against all forms of police misconduct. The ball is in our court.

Do you feel comfortable living your life as a Muslim in America?

I used to feel perfectly safe as an NYU student, but recent news about the NYPD's unwarranted surveillance has made me uneasy in my own home and school. I am not a native New Yorker, and I moved to this city in hopes of obtaining an education in an environment that encourages diversity and fosters acceptance. The fact that my values, my involvement with the Islamic Center at NYU and even my name itself makes me a target is hurtful, scary and unacceptable. I am a sophomore who wants to study and engage with my peers without feeling like someone is lurking around and waiting to misconstrue my next words and actions. I deserve this opportunity to pursue my dreams just like any other law-abiding, hard-working student who has ambitions and aspirations to contribute to my community and my city.


With the deepening trust deficit between the American Muslim community—especially in the New York area—and law enforcement, how can figures of authority effectively engage with Muslims?

A trust deficit this extensive can only be overcome by depositing good will. The American Muslim community has repeatedly said they will work with law enforcement, and they have, including the NYPD. It is the fact that NYPD decided to spy on people who were cooperating with them that multiplies the pain Muslim communities are feeling. Therefore, it is up to the NYPD to start making deposits. Paul Brown, NYPD's professional liar, needs to be fired immediately. NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly needs to be disciplined and Michael Bloomberg needs to go around to various communities across the country the NYPD has spied upon, listen to their grievances and apologize. The NYPD also needs tighter controls, an opening of their case files to the affected people, and a cessation of all spying programs. They need to understand surveillance and spying is not the same thing. Once they do this, it shows they are serious.

How should American Muslims practice their faith and live their lives in light of these events? misrepresentation?

We have to practice our faith as we see fit. I would urge people to practice their faith more openly. Give the NYPD more targets. Never speak to law enforcement without an attorney. The NYPD has already stopped investigating traffic accidents in the city, and eventually other New Yorkers will see how ridiculous it is put an NYPD officer on every Muslim in the city and then to go into surrounding states with more officers, while basic crime in the city goes unchallenged. Be proud and visible Muslims. Let your non-Muslim friends know that by virtue of being friends with a Muslim, the NYPD might be spying on them. Go to as many houses of worship as you can and talk, so that the NYPD is spying in churches and synagogues.

Do you feel comfortable living your life as a Muslim in America?

 I do. I am firm enough in my faith and happy enough to be an American that I know what the NYPD is doing is wrong. They will not take my faith in either God or country. The NYPD may not believe in the constitution, the bill of rights, or civil liberties, but that doesn't mean they are right.