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Surveillance & the Mosque: a one-day conference

  • Casa Hispanica, Columbia University 612 West 116th Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

Last year’s turbulent presidential campaign revealed implicit biases about the status and security of Muslims in America and elsewhere. A rhetoric that was invariably framed using terms like “surveillance,” “suspicion,” “Islamic terror,” and “jihadist” permeated media and public discourse, culminating in widespread calls for increased surveillance of Muslim communities at home and abroad. These calls build upon discourses as well as policies and practices implemented by government officials and institutions that have policed and surveilled Muslims communities since 9/11. A consequence of these circumstances has been an amplification of commentary by Muslim leaders, civil liberties organizations, scholars, journalists, and artists on the practical and discursive implications they have for diverse Muslim communities. A fundamental point of contention is the way in which government surveillance of public “safe spaces,” such as mosques, impacts Muslim-Americans and Muslim communities here and abroad, jeopardizing their fair treatment and equal status.

This one-day conference will bring together artists, academics, activists, community leaders, lawyers, journalists, targets of surveillance, and those charged with conducting said surveillance. The diversity of the group will foster lively discussion about different aspects of surveillance, such as its methods and strategies, and its role in constructing “good Muslim / bad Muslim” stereotypes. Experts from different sites around the globe will likely discuss Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) strategies, the entrapment / informant dynamics, and surveillance in Muslim safe spaces, amongst others.