Imam Mustafa El-Amin, the head of Masjid Ibrahim in Newark, which was one of the mosques included in the NYPD's report, said they had always had an open-door policy for law enforcement officials, but wanted answers as to why the NYPD had collected information on his mosque without cause.
"We're not living in a shell, we understand some of the threats to our country, and to pretend like we don't understand that would be ridiculous," El-Amin said. "But there's process and there are procedures that are in place that have to be followed so that you don't violate any of the rights of the citizens of the United States of America."
El-Amin was among a group of leaders representing a cross-section of New Jersey's diverse Muslim population, who entered Saturday's meeting with New Jersey officials saying they would not settle for less than an official investigation, but left the meeting saying although an investigation hadn't been promised, they felt reassured that the officials were taking the matter seriously.
"It's the start; there's still a lot of unanswered questions, I'm going to be honest with you," said Amin Nathari, of the Muslim Community Leadership Coalition of Newark, who attended the meeting. "But the fact that we're all at the table having dialogue and that the commitment is there, that there's a mutual concern to get to the bottom of the issue and to get some justice, I think that we'll be OK going forward,"
In addition to the attorney general and more than a dozen Muslim leaders, the head of the FBI's Newark field office, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and representatives from the New Jersey State Police and the Department of Homeland Security also attended.
Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, declined to comment on whether his office or the U.S. attorney general would be launching a formal investigation, saying only that the U.S. attorney general had already said he was taking a preliminary look at it.
"The issues that were raised relating to the New York Police Department are obviously of huge concern to the Arab and Muslim community in New Jersey and we want them to know that we're responsive to their concerns and that we want to hear what they have to say so that in determining what we're going to do, we know what the community thinks," Fishman said.
Several groups in New Jersey and New York, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the American Arab Forum and the Council of Shia Professionals, have sent letters asking for formal state and federal investigations into the NYPD's activities, saying that the surveillance plans detailed in the reports point to violations both of New Jersey law and the civil rights of law abiding residents.
Associated Press writer Chris Hawley in New York contributed to this report.
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