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Surveillance of Muslims challenged

WASHINGTON — The New York Police Department’s focus on Muslims is similar to the political surveillance of the 1960s and ’70s that was banned under a landmark legal ruling, according to a new court filing by civil rights lawyers.

They are seeking an injunction against further surveillance of Muslims without evidence of crimes and a new court-appointed auditor to oversee police activities.

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Describing continuing surveillance of Muslims as ‘‘widespread and intense,’’ the civil rights lawyers complained that the NYPD has monitored public places where Muslims eat, shop, and worship, and has kept records and notes about police observations despite no evidence of unlawful or terror-related activities.

The lawyers said the NYPD’s actions violate rules, known as the Handschu guidelines, that a court had imposed as part of a 1985 landmark settlement with the NYPD to a lawsuit they filed.

The motion said the NYPD’s actions were so ‘‘flagrant and persistent’’ that an auditor should be appointed.

The NYPD has said the department follows the Handschu guidelines and did not break any laws.

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