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A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslim groups following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Tuesday's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reverses the decision of a New Jersey federal judge who dismissed the case last year.

The appellate panel found the Muslim plaintiffs had raised sufficient allegations of equal-protection violations to warrant the case going forward.

The judges compared the NYPD's alleged practices to blanket scrutiny of Japanese-Americans during World War II and blacks during the civil rights movement.

The city blamed The Associated Press, whose reporting exposed the surveillance program, for any harm to the plaintiffs.

The lower court judge agreed with that argument, but the appeals panel said the city was the cause of any harm.

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