The Los Angeles Police Department has abruptly scrapped a program to map the city’s Muslim population, reports the Los Angeles Times. It was a major retreat for a department that said the system was needed to identify potential hotbeds of extremism. The reversal came after a week of protests from Muslim groups and civil libertarians, who equated the mapping with religious profiling. Others questioned whether it was possible for the police to map the city’s far-flung Muslim community accurately.
The LAPD did not provide details about how it planned to build the Muslim database. The department’s counter-terrorism bureau proposed using U.S. census data and other demographic information to pinpoint Muslim communities and then reach out to them through social service agencies. A police official said law enforcement agencies around the world are dealing with radical Muslim groups that are isolated from the larger community, creating potential breeding grounds for terrorism. He cited terror cells in Europe as well as the case of Muslim extremists in New Jersey arrested in May for allegedly planning to bomb Ft. Dix.