Rabat - In the heat of the 2016 elections in the US, one of the presidential candidates suggested that police needs to "patrol" Muslim neighborhoods, in response to the controversy about monitoring of mosques by the FBI and police units, and the concern about the rising numbers of domestic terrorist attempts. Cruz never elaborated on his remarks, but his comments sparked a wave of outrage (more from Democrats, and from the Islamist organization CAIR than from within Muslim communities) and accusations of unconstitutionality and Islamophobia. However, leaving aside the expected partisan reactions, his suggestion was neither unprecedented nor particularly radical. Indeed, physical, non-electronic surveillance in public spaces is completely constitutional in the United States (with no particular need to elaborate); the issue here was whether the police could profile particular neighborhoods on the basis of religion. Indeed, while there may be some questions about the length of targeted surveillance against specific subjects (though according to at least some rulings, even warrantless digital surveillance of a felon in public space can go on indefinitely), police patrolling is not aimed against anyone in particular, and therefore does not trigger Fourth Amendment concerns.

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Irina Tsukerman is a New York based attorney, whose focus is on assisting human rights defenders, liberal democratic dissidents, and persecuted minorities, and who frequently writes about security issues, human rights, international affairs, and geopolitics.