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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 mosaic.nj.com 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 nj.com 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 nj.com 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 Supports Response to Anti-Muslim Quiz at Wayne School, Calls for Diversity Training

CAIR-NJ Supports Response to Anti-Muslim Quiz at Wayne School, Calls for Diversity Training

(NEWARK, NJ, 6/25/2024) – The New Jersey office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed the swift response from school administrators in Wayne, where middle school students were given a quiz containing questions stemming from anti-Muslim bias.

CAIR-NJ also called on administrators to implement meaningful and appropriate trainings to educate faculty and teachers about Islam and Muslims in America.

Late last week, CAIR-NJ received complaints from parents whose children in grade 7 at Schuyler-Colfax Middle School in Wayne, New Jersey, were asked to take a multiple-choice Social Studies quiz containing questions and answers that were anti-Muslim in nature and implications.

One of the anti-Muslim questions asked 7th grade students about the definition of the “Islamic State” and included the “Palestinian Liberation Organization” as a choice to that question.

In a statement, Wayne Township Public Schools Superintendent Mark Toback apologized for the question, saying it was “unacceptable and [does] not reflect the standards we uphold for our educational community.”

“The question was offensive and contrary to our values of respect, inclusivity, and cultural sensitivity,” Toback said. “We understand the deep concern and disappointment this has caused among students, parents, and the broader community.”

Wayne Township Public Schools district officials met with CAIR-NJ and the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) leadership on June 21 to discuss why the quiz was littered with anti-Muslim bias and next steps on how to prevent this matter from happening again.

Such questions presented in a formal school setting absent the appropriate historical context have the potential to perpetuate bigoted and anti-Muslim rhetoric while also fueling negative stereotypes of Muslims. Muslims, like any other group, deserve to attend school without feeling fearful of such insinuations and macro-aggressions.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut welcomed the school district’s response and called on leadership to implement trainings aimed at educating staff about Islam and Muslims.

“Our CAIR-NJ office has been in close communication with the Wayne Township Public Schools district, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue to address this issue. Most importantly, we’ll be working to help Wayne administrators provide staff the tools they need to cultivate a more inclusive and understanding environment for Muslim students in Wayne. 

“We value the district’s commitment to growth. Now, we hope to see administrators take tangible action by implementing more careful and precise diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings to all staff, especially teachers who shape our nation’s young minds.” 

Earlier this year, CAIR released new civil rights data showing that it has received 3,578 complaints during the last three months of 2023 amid an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate.

SEE: 2024 Civil Rights Report: The Resurgence of Anti-Muslim Hate  

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

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CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Interim Communications Manager Aya Elamroussi, aelamroussi@cair.com, 551-208-5482

East Brunswick High School

CAIR-NJ Commends Efforts to Investigate East Brunswick High School Yearbook Incident, Calls on Mayor to Apologize

CAIR-NJ Commends Efforts to Investigate East Brunswick High School Yearbook Incident, Calls on Mayor to Apologize

Newark, NJ (6/20/2024) — The New Jersey office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed the findings of the investigation into the yearbook incident at East Brunswick High School in which a photo of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) was erroneously used in place of a photo of a Jewish student group. CAIR-NJ today also called on the township’s mayor to apologize for publicly releasing a harmful and presumptuous statement on the sensitive matter prior to the probe’s conclusion.

The East Brunswick Public Schools district hired an independent law firm to investigate how a photo of members of the MSA replaced a photo of the high school’s Jewish Student Union group in the yearbook. The probe followed swift backlash to the incident, which resulted in hateful comments both online and in-person directed toward the Muslim students pictured after a photo of the misplacement was posted on social media.

SEE: CAIR-NJ Demands ‘Transparent and Fair’ Probe of East Brunswick High School Yearbook Photo Incident

On Wednesday, the East Brunswick Public Schools district released the findings of its investigation, concluding the photo error “was not purposeful, but rather was a highly unfortunate error,” it said in a press release Wednesday, citing the probe report.

The probe, conducted by attorney Yaacov Brisman of Brisman Law, determined the lead yearbook advisor mistakenly placed the incorrect photo herself.

“I find that the Lead Advisor was at best careless, but her actions can also be considered negligent. She should have exercised greater attention to detail when selecting the photograph,” the attorney wrote in the report.

Earlier this month, East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohn described the production error as a “blatant Anti-Semitic act” and questioned whether the incident was a “hate crime,” implying the mistake was intentional. The mayor’s one-sided and flagrant statement remained posted on his Facebook page as of Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Interim Communications Manager Aya Elamroussi said:

“CAIR-NJ commends the efforts to investigate the yearbook error and the release of the independent investigation’s findings. The probe’s conclusion affirms what CAIR-NJ already knew: the Muslim Students Association played no part in this incident nor did it have knowledge of the error prior to the yearbooks publications.

CAIR-NJ condemns the mayor’s inciteful statement, which many in the Muslim community felt it was partially responsible for fueling the backlash Muslim students faced in the aftermath of a mistake they played no part in.

It’s shameful for an elected official to jump to conclusions on such a sensitive issue, particularly during the ongoing tensions in our social climate. At a time when it is easy to be divisive, leaders should always be pushing for unity and understanding— not unfounded hostility toward Muslim students.”

Here’s what else the investigation found, per the report:

“[The Lead Advisor] admittedly only ‘assumed’ it was the correct photograph. The photograph clearly has a number of students who are identifiably Muslim. Even accounting for diversity among students, this should have triggered greater awareness.

“Moreover, as an experienced educator, in light of domestic and international events, [the Lead Advisor] should have had a heightened sense of awareness and sensitivity surrounding students of Jewish ethnicity and/or faith. This sensitivity also holds true for students of the Muslim faith who were clearly identifiable by their dress and who were also mislabeled.”

“I found [her] credible, and I have no basis to find that she acted out of any animus, racial, religious, or political, towards Jewish or Muslim students.”

CAIR-NJ applauds and supports the investigator’s recommendation to implement more thorough review measures, including rolling out formalized training sessions for yearbook advisors, administration review before official publication and add an additional advisor to help facilitate the process.

Washington, D.C., based CAIR and the American Muslim community stand in solidarity with all those challenging antisemitism, systemic anti-Black racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, white supremacy, and all other forms of bigotry.

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

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Interim Communications Manager Aya Elamroussi, 551-208-5482, aelamroussi@cair.com

CAIR-NJ Calls State Senate Committee to Oppose Bills Crafted to Gut Free Speech 

CAIR-NJ Calls State Senate Committee to Oppose Bills Crafted to Gut Free Speech

(Newark, NJ, 06/14/2024) —  The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today once again 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.

A State Senate committee plans to conduct a remote meeting via Zoom on Monday during which it will take oral testimony on both bills. CAIR-NJ is urging New Jerseyans to engage with their Legislature and oppose both the bills.

WHEN: Monday, June 17, at 9 a.m.

WHERE: Registration online is required to attend meeting via Zoom

HOW: Protect free speech by opposing the bills when registering online

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 

The proposed measures attack freedom of speech in New Jersey. The bills risk conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, which is dangerous to constructive discourse on this crucial, nuanced topic that affects millions of people. This would ultimately result in the silencing of Palestinians and those who advocate for them by potentially painting them as anti-Semites when they speak up against injustices.

CAIR-NJ unequivocally rejects and condemns the attempted weaponization of anti-Semitism in what appears to be an intentional effort to decenter what’s really important: the freedom of speech to advocate for the liberation of Palestine and Palestinians.

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

“If these bills pass, they will effectively undermine free speech by discouraging open dialogue at a divisive time when we should be seeking mutual understanding and unity.

“Our elected officials in the New Jersey Senate should not vote for a measure that would put our Muslim and Palestinian communities in harm’s way when anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry is already on the rise. Americans should be focused on protecting their right to the First Amendment, not prioritizing a foreign entity.”

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

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Interim Communications Manager Aya Elamroussi, aelamroussi@cair.com, 551-208-5482

East Brunswick High School

CAIR-NJ Demands ‘Transparent and Fair’ Probe of East Brunswick High School Yearbook Photo Incident

CAIR-NJ Demands ‘Transparent and Fair’ Probe of East Brunswick High School Yearbook Photo Incident

(NEWARK, N.J. (6/6/2024) – The New Jersey office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today demanded a transparent and fair investigation into an incident at East Brunswick High School in which a yearbook photo of apparently Muslim students was used to show members of a Jewish school club.

A photo of the yearbook page has gone viral online, triggering anti-Muslim bigotry targeting the students pictured. CAIR-NJ has seen hateful comments on social media, including some that called the students terrorists and that they should be deported.

East Brunswick Superintendent Dr. Victor Valeski apologized to the Muslim parents and students: “As I mentioned impacts to our Jewish students and families earlier today, I want to offer sincere apologies to our Muslim students and families, as well.  I am aware that the picture placed in the yearbook has caused pain for our Muslim students and for that I am deeply sorry.”

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Aya Elamroussi said:

“It is crucial that school officials ensure their investigation is transparent, fair and thorough so those responsible are held accountable. This incident has triggered heinous backlash against the Muslim students pictured whom CAIR-NJ believes had no knowledge of their photo being misused.

“The hateful comments attacking Muslim high school students are deplorable. We call on East Brunswick’s mayor and public schools superintendent to offer support to their Muslim student community and be leaders for the entire township.” 

East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen one-sided statement posted June 4 on his Facebook account does not mention nor address the distressful impact this has had on Muslim community members who are equally a part of his constituency.”

Washington, D.C., based CAIR and the American Muslim community stand in solidarity with all those challenging antisemitism, systemic anti-Black racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, white supremacy, and all other forms of bigotry.

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

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Aya Elamroussi, 551-208-5482, aelamroussi@cair.com 

CAIR-NJ Applauds American Muslim Participation in NJ Primaries, Notes 40,000+ Votes for Ceasefire in Palestine

CAIR-NJ Applauds American Muslim Participation in NJ Primaries, Notes 40,000+ Votes for Ceasefire in Palestine

NEWARK, N.J. (6/5/2024) The New Jersey office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) applauds the thousands of American Muslim voters who participated in the state’s primary election on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

As of Wednesday, 90% of the votes have been counted. So far, the results show the uncommitted choice on the ballot received more than 40,000 votes.
CAIR-NJ worked to galvanize Muslim Americans through voter outreach efforts to increase the community’s civic engagement throughout the state of New Jersey.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Advocacy Coordinator Mousa Naji said:

“Voting is an essential part of our democracy. It is necessary for citizens to exercise their right to vote as a means of expression and to shape the world to be a better place.

“More than 40,000 New Jerseyans took the opportunity to vote uncommitted, making it clear the genocide in Palestine must end. Collectively, they expressed their demand for a ceasefire and for the US to stop sending weapons that have been fueling Israel’s bombardment of Palestine.”

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut also welcomed the voter turn-out Tuesday, saying it was a crucial part of CAIR-NJ’s mission to get as many Muslim Americans to the polls as possible.

“New Jersey’s Muslim community cares deeply about Palestine. Many have family and friends impacted by Israel’s war on Gaza. We expect that it will continue to be an important issue for voters as November approaches,” Maksut said.

“CAIR-NJ will continue to educate the public about the electoral process, key policy issues, and encourage civic participation for larger future turn outs. It’s crucial to continue this momentum into the general election to ensure our voices are heard.”

CAIR-NJ is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization and does not participate in political candidate endorsements. However, the chapter has urged eligible voters to hit the polls to make their voices heard through choosing a candidate that best aligns with their values and views.

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Senior Communications Associate Aya Elamroussi, 551-208-5482, aelamroussi@cair.com

CAIR-NJ Encourages Muslim Community to Vote Early for Primary Election

CAIR-NJ Encourages Muslim Community to Vote Early for Primary Election

(NEWARK, NJ, 5/31/2024) The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) is urging Muslims across the state to vote in the Primary Election on or before June 4, 2024.

Registered voters have the option to participate in the election process today and throughout the weekend as well as on Election Day on Tuesday.

In-person early voting: May 29 – June 2
Primary Election Day: June 4
Election Day Poll Hours: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.

SEE: A list of poll locations near you

With early voting already underway, New Jersey voters may cast their ballots for several key seats at the federal, state and local levels. In addition to the presidential election, the US Senate, US House of Representatives, State Senate as well as local races in some cities and counties are on the ballot.

“It is crucial for members of our Muslim community to practice their civic duty in this Primary Election as we witness the abhorrent and deadly violence unfolding in Gaza and across Palestine,” CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said. “Voting is just one tool we can use to mark our presence in the political arena.”

New Jersey operates a closed primary system, meaning voters must be affiliated with a political party to be eligible to participate in that party’s primary election. People who are not affiliated with either of the two major parties may still vote in down ballot nonpartisan races such as local boards of education.

“Our voices matter now more than ever as hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. have skyrocketed in recent months,” said CAIR-NJ Senior Communications Associate Aya Elamroussi. “By making our votes count in this election, we can choose candidates whose policies advance human rights here in the Garden State and abroad.”

CAIR-NJ is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that does not participate in political candidate endorsements. However, the chapter is urging eligible voters to hit the polls to make their voices heard through choosing a candidate that best aligns with their values and views.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Senior Communications Associate Aya Elamroussi, 908-668-5900 ext. 103, aelamroussi@cair.com

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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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Throughout our lives, there are moments when we pause to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can achieve. We consider how to write each chapter of our life story in a way that embodies our values in word and deed. Leaving a planned gift in a will, trust or by beneficiary designation allows you to continue your impact in the future by funding causes you championed during your lifetime.

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For over fourteen years, CAIR has fought to ensure that Muslims in America are protected in their homes, schools, mosques, and countless other private and public spaces by using the power of the law to give voice to those most impacted by civil rights issues.

Our mission

CAIR needs your long-term support to continue to preserve and advance the fragile rights and liberties of American Muslims. Donations are vital to CAIR's work, especially for abolishing current barriers that aim to restrict Muslims from enjoying even the most basic rights.

Our Impact

CAIR opposes domestic policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious profiling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life.

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Recognitions

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