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Thursday, August 25, 2005

"Can NYC 'Profile' Young Muslim Males?"

In response to arguments that American law enforcement should racially profile young Muslim men [see e.g., here and here], sociologist Andrew Beveridge explains that "even if the New York Police Department wanted to do so -- and it has said clearly that it doesn’t -- profiling young Muslim males is virtually impossible.... They are not racially or physically distinct."

Consider, for example, this chart showing the countries with the highest Muslim population. "China ranks ninth. Russia ranks 18th.... [S]ome Chinese New Yorkers may be Muslim, while some Indonesians may not be." Moreover, "There are 231,000 New Yorkers who claim heritage from these 25 countries.... Some are black, some are Asian; more than 50 percent are white."

Based on his presented evidence, which is shown more dramatically in the article itself, Beveridge concludes:
Profiling by origin is the sort of policy that seems appealing during periods of stress and hysteria, but in hindsight is almost always seen as a mistake – such as the internment of Japanese-American during World War II. In this case, however, it wouldn’t even be possible.

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