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Highland Park must protect police officers from bigotry and abuse

Highland park must protect police officers from bigotry and abuse | opinion

A article.

Published December 08, 2023 | By Ayah Moshet

In a gross display of negligence and disregard for employee wellbeing, Highland Park postponed Sgt. Mohab Hannout’s hearing for the fourth time. The latest postponement — which pushed his hearing to December 18, 2023 — came just hours before the sergeant was scheduled to take the stand on Thursday, November 30.

Hannout, who was suspended on Aug. 15, 2022, has been without a paycheck for 15 months, adding to his emotional distress and financial strife at the hands of his employer. The reason for his suspension? Hannout would go home during his lunch break, an apparent infraction that is not spelled out in department policy and is a regular occurrence among other officers of the department, according to court documents.

From patterns of over scrutinizing to a series of faith-based harassment, Hannout’s case reeks of anti-Muslim bigotry. But his story is not unique and is a lens into the environment that Highland Park police foster and perhaps even encourage, as substantiated by the police department’s pastor, Gregory T. McLendon.

Hannout’s story began long before he was suspended in August 2022.

For over a decade, members of Highland Park’s police department harassed and discriminated against Hannout, court documents show. Officers hurled racial and ethnic slurs at him, calling him a “camel jockey,” “terrorist,” and “sand ni**er,” among other derogatory and anti-Muslim and anti-Arab terms.

In one incident, an officer evoked Hannout’s ethnic background while responding to a call, according to court documents. In another, Hannout was physically assaulted by another officer on the force. Since filing a complaint against the latter incident, Hannout says that the department has operated like a fraternity against him.

The sergeant says he enlisted in the police force to show a “different side” of Muslims, but much to his dismay, his time with the Highland Park Police Department has been tainted with racial and faith-based aggressions and hostilities.

“It made me feel like I don’t belong there,” Hannout told CAIR-NJ. “It made me feel that if, God forbid, one day I am screaming on the radio for help, nobody’s going to come and get me back up because of their prejudices.”

Still, however, Hannout was keen on maintaining his job and serving his community.

“I stayed and I toughed it out and I endured all the discrimination, and eventually, I was able to get promoted,” Hannout said.

What came afterward — in the immediate aftermath of his promotion — felt like a “slap in the face,” according to Hannout.

During his promotion ceremony, he was given an old and scratched-up badge, whereas his colleague, who was also promoted alongside him, was given a new badge. The department did not exchange his badge until he wrote to the police chief, offering to pay for a new one out of pocket.

These incidents, some of which show explicit bias while others show implicit bias, are a window into Highland Park Police. Over the last three years, five officers of color resigned from Highland Park police, making Hannout and two other officers the only officers of color in Highland Park, a township that is nearly 40% people of color.

Hannout’s attorney — who also happens to be a former Boston police officer — Peter Paris of Beckett and Paris Firm, told CAIR-NJ that while Highland Park is “one of the most liberal, inclusive, diverse towns in Middlesex County, [it] has this island of white male domination in its police department. The internal culture is the issue.”

The NAACP investigated the Highland Park Police Department and found that a Black person was 11 times more likely to be a subject of the police force in Highland Park. The township’s former mayor, Gayle Brill-Mittler, held a town hall meeting in 2019 to discuss the department’s habitual racial profiling that has been prevalent in the community for years, according to The Force Report.

Highland Park police maintains a two-tiered disciplinary system, one for white officers and the other for officers of color, according to Paris.

“Multiple people were reported sleeping on the job and were not fired,” Paris said.

Another officer at the department had left Highland Park entirely during his shift and drove several miles away, according to Paris, and was not penalized in the same manner. In his advocacy for Hannout, Paris is asking for a fair modicum of discipline and for the department to abandon its over scrutiny of officers of color and, specifically, Hannout.

While the police department’s pastor, Gregory T. McLendon, substantiated Hannout’s claims of racism and bigotry within the Highland Park Police Department, Mayor Elsie Foster denied being aware of any bigoted incidents in a meeting with CAIR-NJ. The mayor also ducked her responsibility to serve as the hearing officer.

Mayor Foster’s silence in the face of claims of bigotry and abuse happening right under her nose — abuse so severe that it has inflicted emotional distress and financial strife on the only Muslim officer in Highland Park — makes her complicit in the racism and bigotry gripping her own police department.

Until the mayor takes concrete action to protect her officers of color from bigotry and abuse, her calls to diversify the Highland Park Police Department can only ring hollow.

Ayah Moshet is the editorial writing and legal research intern at CAIR-NJ.

It’s time to pass same-day voter registration laws in New Jersey

It’s time to pass same-day voter registration laws in New Jersey | Opinion

A com exclusive article.

y 26, 2023 | By Maryam Ali

The New Jersey primary is just around the corner, but many New Jerseyans may not be able to vote due to barriers such as language access, disability, registration deadlines and more.

Advocates across the state have been calling on state legislators to pass a bill that makes voting more accessible by reducing the standard voter registration deadline and allowing voter registration at polling places.

If passed, the bill could increase turnout by up to 5 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“This legislation is more reflective of who we are as a country and in what direction people would like to see this country going when more people can participate,” said Assatta Mann, the senior organizer at the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

As voter registration laws in New Jersey now stand, voters must register for mail-in ballots and in-person early voting 21 days ahead of an election. Voters who recently moved to New Jersey must also live at their address for a prescribed period of 30 days in order to be considered a resident.

“Currently, you have to be living in a certain location for 30 days to be considered a resident of that area and eligible to vote for the candidates that are going to affect you in the immediate future,” Mann said.

This 30-day waiting period precludes new residents from being able to vote — even if they’ll live in the area for the next several years — as well as college students, which could be a likely contributor to the underrepresentation of young voters in turnout, according to Micauri Vargas, the associate counsel at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

“A lot of times, students move out to different towns and different counties, and they might not be registered in that location,” Vargas said.

With current voting deadlines, students and residents “fall through the cracks,” according to Vargas. Same-day voter registration could help and encourage such groups to turn out to the polls and make their voices heard, because, in states where there is same-day voter registration, youth turnout in presidential elections increases by approximately 14 percentage points, according to Project Vote, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that worked to mobilize marginalized and under-represented voters.

New Jersey residents of color — including immigrants, who make up 23 percent of the state population — register and vote at lower rates than their white counterparts, primarily due to language, deadline and application barriers

Studies show that states, where there is same-day voter registration, have seen anywhere between a 2 to 17 percentage point increase in Black and Latino voter turnout. In New Jersey, specifically, that could mean a significant jump in overall voter turnout, given that approximately 48 percent of the state’s population are people of color, according to 2022 Census data.

Lengthy voting requirements with constricted deadlines also hinder people with disabilities, who may need assistance accessing voting registration documents, ballot boxes, or filling out absentee ballots.

Overall, same-day voter registration simplifies the voting process for Americans who do not have access to reliable, digestible information by removing the added stressors of facing a tall list of voting barriers in a constrained amount of time.

“Generally, there are 22 states and the District of Columbia that have already implemented same-day voter registration,” Mann said. “I think we want to follow in the footsteps of all of those states to be able to implement it in the same way they do to have somewhat of a similar success that they’ve had in terms of increasing voter turnout.”

Same-day voter registration is a “common sense solution,” according to Vargas.

“It promotes democracy and makes it possible to register on the same day and cast the ballot, all in a single day and uses existing election infrastructure. It would be at no cost, really, because it can be done through provisional ballots.”

Over 90 organizations have been working tirelessly to push the same-day voter registration bill through to legislators. The bill has even garnered the support of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who said that it “protects the sacred right to vote.” But within the state legislature, the bill is being challenged by Senate President Nicholas Scutari (LD-22), who has said that it will not ease voting processes, despite research proving otherwise, and that it will instead cause people to question the validity of elections.

Without same-day voter registration, a significant number of New Jersey residents will continue to face barriers to voting, putting the state of our democracy at stake. A democracy is only as good as its participation is, and passing the same-day voter registration bill will empower New Jersey residents and communities of color to let their voices be heard.

Maryam Ali is a legal research and editorial writing intern at CAIR-NJ.


International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Muzzles Critics of Israel

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance muzzles critics of Israel | opinion

A com exclusive article.

In a country that prides itself on freedom of speech, the right to criticize Israel’s apartheid system and illegal occupation of Palestinian territories would seem to be a given. But in New Jersey, that right hangs by a thread.

Earlier this year, New Jersey Senators Andrew Zwicker and Greenstein introduced a resolution calling on the state to define antisemitism.

The resolution, which is cosponsored by Senators Beach and Codey, seeks to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA)working definition of antisemitism.

Antisemitism is generally defined as prejudice against or hatred of Jews, but the IHRA working definition of antisemitism expands antisemitism to also include condemnations or criticisms of Israel as a nation, its occupation of Palestine, the establishment of an apartheid state, and its ongoing blockade of Gaza that amounts to collective punishment and violates international law.

While the UN moves to mark the 75th anniversary of the Nakba for the first time ever, Speaker Kevin McCarthy attempted to block Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s educational community event at the Capitol Visitor Center last week on grounds of “antisemitism.”

The event, which was held nonetheless, sought to uplift Palestinian voices and educate members of Congress and their staff about the ongoing Nakba — the “catastrophe,” in reference to the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 and the resulting destruction and displacement of Palestinian society.

Such incidents are not uncommon, and civil rights advocates have long warned about the dangerous precedent that equating antisemitism with criticisms of Israel sets.

Conflating protests of Israeli apartheid with antisemitism will “muzzle and silence advocates for Palestine, certainly for a positive regard [of Israel],” Wassim Kanaan, the Vice Chair of American Muslims for Palestine said.

Not only does this silence debate and criticism of Israeli apartheid, but it also yields a glaring inaccuracy and injustice to Judaism as a religion and Jews as a religious group, Kanaan said.

“Judaism is a religion,” Kanaan said. “Equating state policy and the policy of a country with the teachings of a religion is inherently wrong because they are two completely different things, it’s important to allow people who share a religious identity to be able to differ on political topics, and still maintain their identity of who they are.”

David Letwin, the cofounder of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, believes that the IHRA definition of antisemitism is a false definition and that adopting it will be harmful not just to critics of Israel, but also to Jews as a whole.

“It will just contribute to the ongoing campaign of enablers of the Israeli regime to silence people who stand up for Palestinian Liberation,” Letwin said.

Letwin also said that by defining any criticism of the Israeli government as antisemitic, it then becomes standard that all Jews, regardless of their political beliefs, are supportive of the Israeli regime and complicit in its crimes, just by virtue of identifying as Jewish.

“It follows logically, that if [criticism of Israel] has nothing to do with Judaism or Jewish identity, then opposing the racist settler colonial political ideology of [Israel] has nothing to do with anti-Jewish discrimination, or violence or stereotypes,” Letwin said.

Civil rights advocates and ordinary citizens are unable to criticize Israeli apartheid without fear of repercussion or retaliation, Letwin said.

“All it has to do is put fear into people, that they could lose their jobs, that they could be subject to public pressure,” Letwin said. “Could their homes be attacked? Could they be attacked personally? It creates an environment in which people become frightened to speak out because they don’t want to be slandered and smeared as an anti-Semite. So then they say to themselves, well, maybe I better not say that or what will be the consequences? If I speak up? Could I lose my job?”

What is necessary, then, is not an erasure of the idea to define antisemitism, but a clear distinction between antisemitism and criticisms of Israel — something which the IHRA definition does not do.

For Kanaan and Letwin, the adoption of a definition of antisemitism must protect the rights of Jewish people from white supremacy, while also not infringing on Palestinians’ or any other group’s basic civil rights.

“It’s not that we need to have a definition of antisemitism that protects Palestinians. We need a definition that doesn’t vilify Palestinians,” Kanaan said.

“We see the white supremacist movements in this country. The right constantly vilifies people of the Jewish faith,” Kanaan said, “and so we need to make sure that they’re protected, but not at the expense of vilifying Palestinians.”

Dina Sayedahmed is the communications manager and Maryam Ali is a legal intern at CAIR-NJ.

from our blog.

LATEST press releases

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Federal Hate Crime Charges Against Individual Who Vandalized Rutgers Muslim Chaplaincy House

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Federal Hate Crime Charges Against Individual Who Vandalized Rutgers Muslim Chaplaincy House  

(NEWARK, NJ, 4/22/2024) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations today welcomed federal hate crime charges against the individual who allegedly vandalized the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University (CILRU).

SEE: Rutgers University Crime Alert: Muslim Chaplaincy House

The alleged perpetrator, 24-year-old Jacob Beacher, is not affiliated with Rutgers University, according to communication from Rutgers police.

The incident comes amid a rising tide of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry nationwide.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed said:

Muslim, Palestinian, and allied students across college campuses are facing an upsurge in bigoted attacks, especially as they advocate for Palestinian liberation.

“The vandalization of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University (CILRU), which had a Palestinian flag displayed, is an example of such bigoted violence.

The CILRU has been a leading voice in advocating for Muslim students on campus and has expressed unequivocal support for Palestine actions and advocacy at Rutgers University.

University administrators must act with urgency to protect Muslim, Palestinian, and allied students, and until they do so, they are putting these students in direct harm’s way.

In a statement, the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University said:

We are humbled by the amazing and generous outpouring from the Rutgers community and the community at large.

These acts of support from the outright donations, donations in kind to replace stolen and damaged items, flowers, balloons, calls and emails have been overwhelming and heartening. We are thankful and grateful.

SEE: CILRU Press Release 04/22/2024

CAIR’s vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.

CAIR’s mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.


CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager, Dina Sayedahmed, 551-221-5592

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Rutgers U. Student Vote in Favor of Israel Divestment

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Rutgers U. Student Vote in Favor of Israel Divestment

(NEWARK, NJ, 4/17/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed an overwhelming “yes” vote by Rutgers University students at the New Brunswick campus in favor of an Israel divestment referendum.

Rutgers students voted to call on the university administration to withdraw investments in Israel and to cancel the school’s partnership with Tel Aviv University.

Some 80 percent of students voted to divest the university’s endowment fund “from companies that profit from, engage in, or contribute to the government of Israel’s human rights violations.”

More than 6,000 students agreed that the university should end its relations with Tel Aviv University.

SEE: Rutgers students at New Brunswick campus vote ‘yes’ on Israel divestment referendum 

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:

“We welcome this important vote as a strong indication of where Rutgers University students stand. 

“Israel is currently executing a campaign of genocide, ethnic cleansing and forced starvation targeting the Palestinian people and we cannot continue to be business as usual.”

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.


CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed,, 908-668-5900 ext. 103, 551-221-5592

CAIR-NJ Condemns Vandalism Targeting Rutgers Muslim Chaplaincy House, Welcomes Hate Crime Probe

The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today condemned vandalism targeting the Muslim Chaplaincy house at Rutgers University (A.K.A. CILRU, Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University).

[NOTE: The news of this vandalism comes as a San Francisco mosque has been vandalized more than once during Ramadan.]

CAIR-NJ also welcomed the attorney general’s participation in a hate crime investigation being led by local New Brunswick police.

SEE: Rutgers Islamic center burglarized as Ramadan ends


In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:

“CILRU is the heart of Muslim life on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus. Students gather at the center to enjoy community, worship together, and support each other. Its desecration, especially on the Islamic holiday of Eid, is deeply distressing. 

“Our CAIR-New Jersey office continues to see an unprecedented uptick in reports alleging anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias incidents and discrimination. 

“We welcome the investigation by New Brunswick police and the support of the Attorney general’s office. This belligerent incident of hate must be prosecuted as such.

“CAIR-New Jersey calls on civic and political leaders and interfaith allies to show their solidarity with the CILRU community by sending letters to their 122 College Avenue New Brunswick, NJ 08901 address. 

“We also call on Rutgers University to heed the concerns of Muslim students who have long expressed concern of the rise anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate.

Maksut urged houses of worship to utilize CAIR’s Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety guide, which contains security advice applicable to institutions of all faiths.

He noted that CAIR’s new civil rights report released earlier this month revealed the highest number of bias complaints ever received in its 30-year history.

SEE: New CAIR Civil Rights Report Reveals Highest Number of Complaints in Group’s 30-Year History

In statement, CILRU Chairwomen Atiyah Aftab said:

“On the auspicious occasion of Eid, our hearts are heavy as we report an act of vandalism at the Muslim Chaplaincy house at Rutgers University. 

“Today, we witnessed art pieces with Quranic verses, shattered windows, vandalized TVs, broken printers, smashed artwork and the destruction of our Palestinian flag.

“This reprehensible act, occurring on our sacred day, is undoubtedly fueled by Islamophobia is clearly a hate crime targeting our Muslim population at Rutgers.

We will continue to say what we are supposed to on Eid. Allahu Akbar, God is Greater. God is Greater than acts of hate and we will continue to carry on.

“Our building can be smashed, but our wills cannot. Allahu Akbar wa lillahil Hamd.”

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.


CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut,, 908-267-3119

CAIR-NJ Acknowledges Gov. Murphy’s Statement on Gaza, Calls on Administration to Address Israeli Genocide in Gaza

CAIR-NJ Acknowledges Gov. Murphy’s Statement on Gaza, Calls on Administration to Address Israeli Genocide in Gaza

(NEWARK, NJ, 03/27/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today acknowledged Gov. Phil Murphy’s support for a ceasefire in Gaza but said he must also address the Israeli genocide in Palestine.

SEE: Statement from Governor Murphy on the Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

In his statement, Gov. Murphy says, “In that spirit, today, I am adding my voice in support of the Biden Administration’s efforts to secure an immediate and sustained ceasefire by all parties that includes the release of the remaining hostages being held by Hamas. Such an agreement will allow desperately needed humanitarian aid – food, water, medical supplies, and more – to flow into Gaza, saving potentially thousands of lives.”

The Governor’s statement comes in the wake of several Muslim and Palestinian groups’ calls for a boycott of the administration’s anticipated Ramadan iftar. 

SEE: Muslims urge Ramadan boycott of Murphy, NJ public officials over Gaza war

While CAIR-NJ appreciated the governor’s efforts in successfully bringing home some Palestinian Americans in Gaza, the civil rights organization underscored that his support for a ceasefire comes six months into Israel’s war on the already besieged Gaza Strip. To date, Israel has killed over 32,000 Palestinians. New Jersey’s Palestinian community, specifically, estimates it has had nearly 3,000 family members killed.

The Governor also does not acknowledge Israel’s accountability for what international bodies — including a U.S. court — have called plausible charges of genocide.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:

“Governor Murphy’s support for a ceasefire in Gaza comes in response to Muslim and Palestinian groups’ demands. While we welcome any call for a ceasefire in Gaza that will save thousands of people, the Governor’s statement is nearly six months and several thousand Palestinian bodies late.

“The Governor’s words also deflect from the root cause of violence in Gaza and continue to play a role in the anti-Muslim bigotry we see by shifting blame. To call Israel’s war on Gaza a ‘humanitarian crisis’ is to erase history. This is not a natural disaster; it is a genocide with a government to hold accountable.

“CAIR-New Jersey will withdraw ourselves from his administration’s celebratory events, such as his anticipated annual Ramadan iftar and/or Eid celebration until the Governor addresses the root cause of violence in Gaza — that is, Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Over 40 of the most prominent New Jersey mosques and Muslim organizations across the state have also agreed to do the same.  

“Our Islamic faith teaches us to be firm in upholding justice. To welcome empty gestures of support for our community is to contradict the very principles of our faith. While it is important and necessary to call for a ceasefire, it is no longer enough. Gov. Murphy must do better to fight for justice for his American Muslim and Palestinian constituencies.”

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.


CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed,, 908-668-5900 ext. 103, 551-221-5592

CAIR-NJ Calls on NJ Senate to Oppose Bills Designed to Curtail Free Speech

CAIR-NJ Calls on State Senate to Oppose Bills Designed to Curtail Free Speech

(Newark, NJ, 03/18/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today called on the New Jersey Senate to oppose Senate Bill 1292 and Senate Bill 2937, both of which are designed to redefine antisemitism using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition.

In an open letter addressed to the New Jersey Senate, CAIR-NJ wrote, “While we appreciate and support efforts to combat hate and discrimination, these bills carry consequences that would suppress legitimate advocacy and free speech.”

SEE: Oppose Bill S1292 and S2937 to Protect Free Speech 

Adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism would conflate antisemitism with anti-Zionism, the letter states, and stifles legitimate discourse. The letter goes on to say that such a definition “would unfairly silence Palestinian advocacy and empowerment” and “would tarnish New Jersey’s reputation in support of free speech and diversity.”

SEE: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance muzzles critics of Israel

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:  

The Muslim community well understands the tangible, harmful effects of discrimination and bigotry and the record will show that we have long stood against all forms of bigotry here in New Jersey. 

In adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, the New Jersey senate will put the Muslim and Palestinian communities here in New Jersey in direct harm’s way, at a time when anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry are on a steep rise. These bills — S1292 and S2937 — protect and prioritize the interests of a foreign entity over the First Amendment rights of Americans and we cannot stand for that.

In statement, CAIR-NJ Civil Rights Attorney Ayah Zaki said:   

“As Americans, we cherish our First Amendment rights. 

“Bills S1292 and S2937 risk undermining free speech by discouraging open dialogue. We can combat antisemitism without stifling dissenting voices against Israel, and the New Jersey Senate should reject these bills because they violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.


CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed,, 908-668-5900 ext. 103, 551-221-5592

CAIR-NJ Releases Guide for Mosques Highlighting Right to Only Welcome Public Officials Who Support Gaza Ceasefire

CAIR-NJ Releases Guide for Mosques Highlighting Right to Only Welcome Public Officials Who Support Gaza Ceasefire 

(Newark, NJ, 03/11/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released a civic guide for New Jersey mosques that highlights their right to only welcome public officials who support a Gaza ceasefire to mosques during Ramadan to address congregants.

This comes in light of Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza and public officials’ refusal to support constituents’ calls for a ceasefire in Palestine.

SEE: Harnessing Our Collective Power: A Guide to Civic Engagement in our Mosques

Ramadan is one of the holiest times of the Islamic calendar. Historically, elected officials have used the time to engage with their Muslim constituents and solicit their support at events such as community iftars and nightly prayers.

SEE: Why Ramadan will be different this year for the NJ chapter of CAIR

With the war on Gaza now in its fifth month, and with Israel continually denying Palestinians in Gaza adequate access to basic necessities such as food, water, and medical supplies, American Muslims in New Jersey are conveying their deep dismay in their representatives.

Of twelve, only three New Jersey congressmembers have publicly called for a ceasefire in Palestine. Palestinian Muslims in New Jersey have collectively had more than 1,000 family members killed by Israel since October.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut  said: 

“This year as Israel’s war on Gaza rages the Muslim community here in New Jersey is struggling to shake hands and break bread with the same officials who actively endorse Israel’s forcible displacement, mass starvation, and genocide of our sisters and brothers in Palestine.

“Muslims in New Jersey are harnessing their collective power this Ramadan. They are making their position and demands clear. Our houses of worship and dinner tables are sacred spaces. We will continuously elevate who gets to enjoy these spaces with us and our community.  

“A ceasefire in Palestine is the bare minimum. New Jersey public officials across the state must not only push for a ceasefire, but also re-evaluate the state’s commitment to Israel and uphold their sworn duty towards justice.”

Last week, CAIR’s national headquarters released its 2024 Ramadan toolkit, a comprehensive guide and resource for supporting the Muslim community during the month-long daybreak to sunset fast.

The toolkit includes template letters for workplace and student accommodations during Ramadan and advocacy resources such as letters and resolutions urging elected officials to recognize Eid and promote a Gaza ceasefire at state and local levels.

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.


CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed,, 908-668-5900 ext. 103, 551-221-5592


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Numerous Muslim scholars have confirmed that Zakat is payable to organizations that exist to serve the Muslim community by protecting their rights. This is because the work done by CAIR (and other such organizations) can be classified as fi-sabilillah, which is one of the eight categories of Zakat recipients detailed in the Quran (Chapter 9, Verse 60).

Zakat Eligible

Numerous Muslim scholars have confirmed that Zakat is payable to organizations that exist to serve the Muslim community by protecting their rights. This is because the work done by CAIR (and other such organizations) can be classified as fi-sabilillah, which is one of the eight categories of Zakat recipients detailed in the Quran (Chapter 9, Verse 60).

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American Muslims in New Jersey have much to celebrate. For many years the American Muslim community has added to the rich cultural diversity we greatly value in New Jersey. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is an important vehicle for recognizing the accomplishments of New Jersey's Muslims.
Cory Booker
U.S. Senator New Jersey
CAIR is not for that stranger. CAIR is for you. Even as mayor I was stopped and harassed at JFK along with my wife and four children. My phone was confiscated. CAIR was there to stand up for me and retrieve my phone. Supporting CAIR means making sure that they are there for you when you need them in the future.
Mohamed T. Khairullah
Mayor Prospect Park
Since its inception, CAIR's New Jersey Chapter has been committed to advancing its parent organization's mission to provide necessary services to Muslim Americans that have contributed to their personal and professional wellbeing. CAIR-NJ has long been a champion for the interests of its community, striving to protect their civil liberties and offering them numerous educational opportunities.
Chris Christie
Former Governor of New Jersey
As Governor, I commend the leadership and volunteers of CAIR-NJ for their hard work and dedication to advance civil liberties for countless individuals and for their unwavering dedication to endure the wellness of our society.
Phil Murphy
Governor New Jersey
The work of CAIR and its partners ensures that the rights of all Americans remain protected. Now, more than ever, it is our duty to expose and dismantle Islamophobia and to push back against all types of hate.
Bonnie W. Coleman
Member of Congress
I commend your commitment to engage, embrace and value all communities and I am confident that your efforts will bring greater understanding and tryst to our communities. I look forward to continuing to work with you and the Muslim community in mu district in this endeavor.
Frank Pallone Jr.
U.S. Senator New Jersey