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Chicago Muslims reassured after meeting McCarthy

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Less than one week after sending a letter to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, a Muslim rights advocate organization says it has been reassured that Chicago police will not undertake blanket surveillance of the city’s Muslim population.

The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations addressed the letter to McCarthy after learning that while McCarthy was police director in Newark, N.J., he knew of a wide-ranging surveillance operation that the New York Police Department undertook to monitor Muslims in Newark. The 2007 surveillance operation, which NYPD characterized as a “joint operation” with the Newark Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit, resulted in a 60-page report about where Muslims in Newark lived, socialized, and prayed.

McCarthy has distanced himself from the operation. On Tuesday morning, McCarthy met with individuals from CAIR-Chicago and from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, to respond to their concerns.

“We sought and received reassurances that such a program would not be carried out in Chicago and that the superintendent stood against community profiling and blanket investigations,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.

Rehab said he has no reason to believe that McCarthy, who was appointed to head Chicago’s police department by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, harbors any anti-Muslim sentiment.

“We’re hoping that this marks a new page for Muslim-police relations, in which we move forward,” said Rehab. “There’s two sides to the same coin: safety and civil rights, there can be a balance achieved between both, and there will be.”

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