An extensive mapping program launched by the LAPD’s anti-terrorism bureau to identify Muslim enclaves across the city sparked outrage Thursday from some Islamic groups and civil libertarians, who denounced the effort as an exercise in racial and religious profiling.
Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing, who heads the bureau, defended the undertaking as a way to help Muslim communities avoid the influence of those who would radicalize Islamic residents and advocate “violent, ideologically-based extremism.”
“We certainly reject this idea completely,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. “This stems basically from this presumption that there is homogenized Muslim terrorism that exists among us.” Syed said he is a member of Police Chief William J. Bratton’s forum of religious advisors, but had not been told of the community mapping program. “This came as a jolt to me,” Syed said.
Hussam Ayloush, who leads the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the mapping “basically turns the LAPD officers into religious political analysts, while their role is to fight crime and enforce the laws.”
See also Associated Press, 9 November 2007