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I was recently contacted by a woman who, having recently returned from the Middle East, was distressed that, despite making some good friends, as people she came across in this area, both Muslim and non-Muslim, were treated differently by the police and police officials within her local area than by their fellow travellers.
To put it simply, a female friend had been accosted by a group of four police officers in a van outside a bar in the West Village, New York, whilst on her way home from a concert, and was subsequently arrested and charged with obstructing governmental administration.
Having heard and read a considerable amount of feedback on this incident on social media and elsewhere, I think the article below by Jessica Valenti, “I’m a Muslim Woman in America: The Perpetration Of Islamophobia,” does an excellent job of explaining what the issue is and how the police, in New York, respond to it.
The police should not be able to do this to a Muslim in the name of “checking” how Muslims are behaving.
A friend in New York, where I live, described how she was pulled over after parking her car outside the city’s police station on East 59th Street during her commute home from the West Village concert on Friday night. Two police officers approached her car, questioned her, and pointed their guns at her.
“I don’t get stopped for nothing,” she tweeted about the incident, along with a photo of the officers:
And when she called the police, she got some sort of answer: “Please don’t let us stop you. It’s just your right to go home.”
“A lot of the anti-Muslim rhetoric you see online was a response to this,” Valenti writes. “This was a response to the fact that New York Police Department officers—and especially New York City Police Department members—were treated differently by Muslims, even Muslims who had nothing to do with terrorism. It was a response to a situation of bias.”
In fact, what’s happening to many police officers in the US is also happening to many non-Muslims. A poll last October by the Pew Research Center showed that 56 percent of those surveyed believed the police are racist against people of different races, religions, and/or national
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