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L.A. police to abandon Moslem mapping effort
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08:31, November 16, 2007

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The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has decided to abandon its much criticized mapping plan detailing Moslem communities in the city, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday.

Instead the LAPD has chosen to focus on a "community outreach" approach, said the paper.

"It has been pushed aside and might stay there," Officer Karen Smith of the department's Media Relations Section said.

"We are continuing with the community engagement initiative which involves three components: understanding the Moslem community, deepening the engagement with the community and focusing on the engagement where it's needed most."

The decision drew praise from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU) praised the decision, but promised continued vigilance.

"We are pleased to hear that the LAPD is withdrawing the mapping plan outlined before a Senate committee last month," ACLU Executive Director Ramona Ripston said.

"We will remain watchful of the department's activity in this area to ensure that this program isn't being repackaged and reintroduced in another form but with the same effect of profiling L.A.'s Moslem communities based solely on their religion." he said.

Department leaders also plan to discuss the mapping plan in a previously scheduled meeting later Thursday with officials from several Moslem organizations and the ACLU, Smith said.

According to Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Moslem Public Affairs Council, the meeting is the first step in putting together the "building blocks of mutual trust."

"There needs to be a common ground of understanding on the nature of the problems that we're talking about, whether it's public safety or civil liberties," Al-Marayati said. "I sense that there's a gap of misunderstanding on those issues."

The mapping plan proposed by the LAPD counterterrorism bureau would have created a map detailing the Moslem communities in that city.

The ACLU, Moslem Advocates and Islamic Shura Council called the mapping project "religious profiling that is just as unlawful, ill-advised and deeply offensive as racial profiling."

LAPD Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing, who heads the counterterrorism bureau, said that in the wake of the protest, officials would drop the mapping aspect of the plan but continue its attempt to make inroads into the Moslem community through outreach efforts.

Source: Xinhua

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