South Asian American civil rights groups and others are speaking out after a published report this week named five American Muslims who were allegedly spied on by the U.S. government.
The Intercept’s reporting was based on information provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is currently living in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum. Among the Muslims reportedly spied on are the leader of a prominent civil rights organization, two professors and a longtime Republican Party operative.
“I believe that they tapped me because my name is Asim Abdur Rahman Ghafoor, my parents are from India, I traveled to Saudi Arabia as a young man, and I do the pilgrimage,” Asim Ghafoor told The Intercept. Ghafoor is a lawyer who has represented several clients in terrorism-related cases.
In reaction to the piece, several advocacy groups have been speaking out against spying and surveillance. A coalition of 45 groups organized by the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to President Obama detailing its concerns. “We call on your Administration to provide a full public accounting of these practices and to strengthen protections against the infringement of civil liberties and human rights.” the letter read.
In a separate statement, the National Coalition of South Asian Organisations issued its own call to the President and Congress, saying that surveillance of community members needed to end.
“As organizations that work directly with South Asian community members, we know all too well that in the post 9/11 environment, the targeting of Muslim Americans has unfortunately become a commonplace occurrence,” the NCSAO wrote. “Reports of surveillance at mosques and student associations, infiltration of informants, and profiling through the use of watchlists continue to occur, and continue to have a negative impact on and within our communities.”
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