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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.

Anti-boycott laws are a dystopian nightmare

Anti-boycott laws are a dystopian nightmare

The right to boycott was once enshrined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982, but the recent passing of anti-BDS laws in several U.S. states shows how fragile basic civil rights have become.

A Mondoweiss Exclusive Article

Published October 4th, 2022 | By Hamzah Khan

Few things have as much bipartisan support in the U.S. as unconditional support for Israel. Ironically, while criticisms of the U.S. government are protected by the First Amendment, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have made it nearly impossible to criticize Israel without facing tangible consequences like public smearing, and even financial loss. Across the U.S., 34 states — from “blue” states like California and New York to “red” states like Texas and South Carolina — have passed some form of legislation that makes it illegal for the state to contract with businesses and individuals who participate in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), a grassroots movement founded by Palestinian civil society that seeks to pressure Israel to abide by international law.

Boycotting now carries a price

Under the various iterations of anti-boycott laws across the U.S., individuals and businesses that do partake in the BDS movement risk financial retaliation, like Unilever did in New Jersey, or public smear campaigns and accusations of antisemitism. Proponents of the anti-boycott law claim that it combats antisemitism, but most of the laws explicitly target the BDS movement, which condemns antisemitism. These anti-BDS laws have been wielded to disastrous effect, with state governments targeting individuals and companies alike who seek to exercise their right to boycott an apartheid state. By punishing boycotts of Israel, U.S. legislators encroach on Americans’ First Amendment rights.

Many of the state anti-BDS laws require anyone contracting with the state or any federal employees to sign a non-boycott pledge. Just weeks ago, in June, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an anti-BDS law in Arkansas, the first and most senior court to do so thus far.

A local newspaper, The Arkansas Times, was required to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel in order to run ads with the University of Arkansas, a state-funded public university. The newspaper refused to sign the pledge on grounds that it violated free speech. Initially, The Arkansas Times won their case in the district court. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, reversed the decision and upheld the law. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the Arkansas case or even a similar one in the next few years, there is a high probability that the conservative majority will concur with the conservative Eighth Circuit’s opinion and uphold these laws, permanently crippling free speech in this country.

In Georgia, just a few states east of Arkansas, journalist Abby Martin was required to sign a non-boycott pledge in order to speak at a public university, which she refused. And in Arizona, Dr. Hatem Bazian and the American Muslims for Palestine, a grassroots advocacy group dedicated to educating the American public on Palestine, were required to sign a non-boycott pledge in order to hold an event at Arizona State University. The Council on American Islamic Relations filed separate lawsuits on behalf of both plaintiffs. In both cases, the courts struck down the anti-BDS laws on free speech grounds.

In Kansas and Texas, individuals contracting with public schools were also required to sign the pledge.

One Kansas woman, Esther Koontz, sued Kansas Commissioner of Education Randall Watson after she was required to sign a pledge to not participate in boycotts of Israel. The state refused to contract with her when she did not sign the pledge.

In Texas, victims of Hurricane Harvey were required to sign the anti-BDS pledge in order to receive aid from the government. Phil King, the Republican lawmaker who sponsored the bill, later apologized for the way the law was implemented, calling it a “misunderstanding.” But just about a year later, Bahia Amawi, a child language pathologist, lost her job after nine years of employment when she refused to sign a new contract that included an addendum that would prohibit her from boycotting Israel.

Both Kansas and Texas later amended their laws: in Kansas, the anti-boycott certification requirement no longer applies to individuals or sole proprietors — now only applying to companies if they conduct more than $100,000 worth of business with the state.

However, companies that conduct more than said amount of business with the state are required to sign a certification stating that they are “not engaged in a boycott of goods or services from Israel that constitute an integral part of business conducted or sought to be conducted with the state.” Similarly in Texas, the anti-boycott law now excludes companies with nine or fewer full-time employees and contracts under $100,000. Both CAIR and its Houston chapter sued the state of Texas last year to expand the definition of a “company” to “between a governmental entity and a company with 10 or more full-time employees, and has a value of $100,000 or more that is to be paid wholly or partly from public funds of the governmental entity.” The state has appealed the temporary injunction granted, and it is now up to the Fifth Circuit this November.

Many states have also passed laws that pose financial burdens on organizations that allegedly boycott Israel through the creation of blacklists, pension fund divestments, and prohibition of business contracts. Most of the laws target companies that states deem to be engaged in a boycott of Israel, regardless of whether they actually are. In Illinois, the state created blacklists of companies, not only for boycotting Israel on political grounds, but for even refusing to do business with Israel for commercial reasons. Many of the companies on the list were perplexed as to why they could no longer contract with the state as they held no political positions against Israel.

In New Jersey and New York, both states divested state pension funds from Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, after the ice cream maker announced that it would no longer operate in illegal Israeli settlements. Interestingly, this action was considered a boycott of Israel despite the fact that Ben & Jerry’s continued to operate in the rest of the country.

In Houston, the Council on American Islamic Relations sued the city and Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, on behalf of A&R Engineering, a firm that frequently contracted with the city but refused to sign the anti-BDS pledge. The suit was successful, and they won an injunction against the city to waive the requirement. The fact that this clear political act was punished by so many states shows that the government can use the full force of the state to stifle political dissent and find applause within both parties. The majority of anti-BDS laws prohibit states from investing in companies that boycott Israel, significantly hindering the ability of activists to pressure companies to support human rights.

The fact that so many U.S. states have decided to fall on the side of apartheid is a dystopian foreshadowing of the ease with which fundamental rights can be taken away.

While most of the anti-BDS laws have been struck down in court when challenged, the latest ruling from the Eighth Circuit may represent a disturbing shift towards stricter government enforcement against movements that support Palestinian rights. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton recently introduced an anti-BDS law in Congress that would make it easier for states to implement stricter anti-BDS laws.

Seeing that anti-BDS laws have broad bipartisan support, the likelihood of this bill becoming law is very high.

The right to boycott was protected by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co in 1982, in which the court upheld the right of the NAACP to boycott primarily white institutions that segregated between whites and people of color.

Boycotts have long been instrumental to political movements from the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. to the anti-apartheid boycotts of South Africa. The fact that so many U.S. states have decided to fall on the side of apartheid is a dystopian foreshadowing of the ease with which fundamental rights can be taken away.


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CAIR to Announce Lawsuit in D.C., N.J., Mass., Mich. Seeking End to Secret Government Watchlist

CAIR to Announce Lawsuit in D.C., N.J., Mass., Mich. Seeking End to Secret Government Watchlist

Suit with a dozen Muslim plaintiffs will mark the 20th anniversary (Sept. 16) of Terrorism Screening Dataset

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/15/2023) – On Monday, Sept. 18, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, plans to hold a news conference to announce the filing of a lawsuit with a dozen plaintiffs seeking an end to the government’s secret watchlist that almost exclusively targets Muslims for harassment and humiliation when they travel. CAIR’s lawsuit will mark the 20th anniversary (Sept. 16) of the Terrorism Screening Dataset.

NOTE: Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah of Prospect Park, N.J., is one of the plaintiffs. On May 1, Khairullah was barred from attending the White House’s annual Eid al-Fitr celebration.    

CAIR chapters in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Michigan will also hold news conferences announcing the lawsuit for plaintiffs in those states.


WHERE: CAIR-NJ Office, 570 Broad Street, Suite 703 Newark, NJ 07102

WHEN: Monday, September 18, at 12:30 p.m.

WHO: Mohamed T. Khairullah, Mayor of Prospect Park, NJ; Ayah Zaki, Civil Rights Attorney at CAIR-NJ.; Gadeir Abbas, Senior Litigation Attorney at CAIR LDF



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


WHERE: CAIR National Office, 453 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003

WHEN:  Monday, Sept. 18 at 11 a.m.

CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 202-642-4934,; CAIR Staff Attorney Hannah Mullen, 202-742-6420, hmullen@cair.comCAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR National Communications Manager Ismail Allison, 202-770-6280,


In June, CAIR released a report, titled “Twenty Years Too Many, A Call to Stop the FBI’s Secret Watchlist,” which details the federal government’s use of the Terrorism Screening Dataset to target Muslims, and called President Biden to take action to address the watchlist.

CAIR’s report found that the overwhelming majority, estimated to be around 98 percent, of names on the watchlist are Muslim names. More than 350,000 entries alone in the portion of the watchlist acquired by CAIR include some transliteration of Mohamed or Ali or Mahmoud, and the top 50 most frequently occurring names are all Muslim names.

An individual’s watchlist status is used by government agencies to harass and humiliate people when they travel, to outright forbid people from flying, to deny individuals licenses and permits, to refuse to hire people or fire people already employed, to delay or deny visas and applications for U.S. citizenship or a U.S. passport, and to subject the innocent people on the list to dangerous and invasive law enforcement actions.



The watchlist is Islamophobic. An expert statistical analysis of leaked portions of the 2019 watchlist estimates that at least 98.3% of the names on the watchlist are identifiably Muslim. That doesn’t happen by accident. The federal government admits that they consider individuals’ race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin in deciding who to place on the watchlist. The government intentionally targets Muslims for inclusion on the list and considers individuals from Muslim-majority countries, travel to Muslim-majority countries, attending mosques, zakat donations to Muslim charities, the wearing of typical Muslim dress, the frequency of Muslim prayer, adherence to Islamic religious practices, Islamic religious study, the transfer of money to individuals residing in Muslim-majority countries, affiliations with Muslim organizations, and associations with Muslims in the United States or abroad to be suspicious.    

The government places individuals on the watchlist without investigating, indicting, or convicting them of any crime. The government admits that it places people on the watchlist even when they are not being investigated or prosecuted for any terrorism-related crime. In practice, that means that innocent Americans—who could not be charged or convicted of any crime in court—are nonetheless targeted for harm and stigmatization by the federal government.    

The government places individuals on the watchlist without any warning or explanation. When someone is placed on the watchlist, they receive no notice from the government. They have no idea why the government considers them worthy of permanent suspicion, have no opportunity to dispute the government’s decision, and no way to confront and counter the supposedly derogatory information on which their placement is based. Instead, one day, out of the blue, based on the way that they’re being harmed and mistreated by federal government agents or other entities, they realize that they’ve been branded as a “known or suspected terrorist.”    

Watchlist placement turns innocent Americans’ lives upside-down. When someone is placed on the watchlist, almost every aspect of their life can be affected. The federal government sends the watchlist to federal agencies, over 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies, over 500 private entities, and dozens of foreign countries, all of which then take actions to harm and stigmatize listed individuals.

As a result of being watchlisted, innocent Americans are publicly humiliated, surveilled, and harassed when they travel; prevented from attending weddings, funerals, graduations, and other milestone events; separated from their children; denied jobs, security clearances, U.S. citizenship, visas, gun licenses, and other government benefits; and even effectively exiled from the United States.

Watchlist placement extrajudicially sentences innocent Americans to permanent second-class citizenship. CAIR’s lawsuit reveals for the first time that, even on the rare occasion that the government removes an individual from the watchlist, an individual’s past watchlist will continue to haunt them. Federal agencies retain records of past watchlist status and use them to deny formerly-listed individuals access to government buildings, security clearances, federal employment, and other licenses and government benefits.


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


CAIR, CAIR-NJ Welcome Westfield School Board’s Reversal of Motion to Remove Professor Sahar Aziz

CAIR, CAIR-NJ Welcome New Jersey School Board’s Reversal of Motion to Remove Professor Sahar Aziz

(Washington, DC, 9/13/2023) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed the Westfield, NJ school board’s unanimous vote to reverse an earlier decision to consider removing Professor Sahar Aziz from the board.

This action targeting the Westfield Board of Education’s first and only Muslim member raised concerns that CAIR-NJ expressed to the board members in a letter on September 8. In the letter, CAIR-NJ pointed to the absence of a “just cause,” writing, “We also ask for clarification on what constitutes a ‘just cause’ that precedes a removal hearing. Furthermore, we ask if other board members who’ve missed special meetings scheduled just days in advance or consecutive meetings were also subject to a removal hearing or equally warned.”

On Monday, September 11, the board voted 7-0 vote to rescind its earlier action targeting Professor Aziz. The public agenda for Monday’s meeting listed only “board action item” as its sole purpose, leaving its purpose unclear which in part prompted CAIR’s letter.

SEE: Westfield Rescinds Decision to Remove School Board Member

In a statement, CAIR Research and Advocacy Director Corey Saylor said:

“The unanimous vote indicates the full board understood the implications of targeting Professor Aziz. 

“Regardless, we will continue to monitor the Westfield School Board to ensure this illegitimate effort to remove Professor Aziz does not manifest in a new form in the coming months.”

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

“Board Member Aziz comes with a unique and valued perspective, and we are eager to see her continue in her role at the Westfield Board of Education. 

“We are optimistic that board members will work together to ensure an inclusive and welcoming environment, demonstrating Board Member Aziz’s commitment to Westfield and the Board’s desire for her contributions.”

Saylor and Maksut both thanked the Muslim community local to Westfield and concerned citizens who attended Monday’s hearing.

SEE: Special Westfield, NJ Board of Education Meeting 9/11/23. School Board Member Sahar Aziz’s Remarks

(Note: The version posted by the school board’s version removes portions of Aziz’s remarks.).

SEE: Professor Sahar Aziz’s Full Written Remarks for Hearing


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


CONTACT: CAIR Research and Advocacy Director Corey Saylor,, 202-384-8857; CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed,, 908-668-5900 ext. 103

CAIR-NJ to Attend Highland Park Police Sergeant’s Termination Hearing, Sergeant Alleges Ethnic and Religious Discrimination

The Borough of Highland Park has made the decision to postpone Sergeant Mohab Hannout’s termination hearing. The hearing was originally scheduled for June 14, 2023, postponed to September 8, 2023, and now postponed indefinitely. The Sergeant has been on unpaid leave since August 15, 2022. 


CAIR-NJ to Attend Highland Park Police Sergeant’s Termination Hearing, Sergeant Alleges Ethnic and Religious Discrimination

(NEWARK, NJ, 9/6/2023) — On Friday, September 8 at 10 a.m.,  the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), a chapter of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, will attend the termination hearing of Highland Park’s Sergeant Mohab Hannout.

The sergeant, who is allegedly facing ethnic and religious harassment and discrimination within the police department according to court documents, was suspended without pay more than one year ago.

The Highland Park Police Department has fostered a “culture of explicit and implicit bias against Black and brown officers by creating a two-tiered disciplinary system: one for whites and one for ‘others,’” court documents read.

WHEN: Friday, September 8, 2023, at 10 a.m.    

WHERE: Highland Park Municipal Building, 221 S. 5th Ave, Highland Park, NJ 08904 

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed,, 908-668-5900 ext. 103, 908-534-8407          

Court documents detail incidents of alleged discrimination, harassment, and bullying that Hannout has endured during his 17-year tenure at the Highland Park Police Department. In one instance, Hannout’s ethnic background was allegedly evoked by a high-ranking official while responding to a call. The same official would allegedly call Hannout a “terrorist.”    

Separately, another high-ranking official allegedly asked if Hannout’s ethnic group was “stupid” in response to another call.   

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

“We are deeply disturbed by the allegations that Sergeant Mohab has made against the Highland Park Police Department, but his case seems to be just the tip of the iceberg.    

“The police department is overwhelmingly white, despite at least 38 percent of the borough population being non-white. Over the last three years, five Black officers have left the department. This is alarming.   

“The Borough has taken positive steps toward eliminating racism within its jurisdiction, but there still seems to be a long way to go within the police department especially.   

“We are optimistic that Mayor Elsie Foster will investigate Hannout’s credible claims in good faith and work to ensure that the apparent explicit and implicit biases within the Highland Park Police Department do not go unchecked.”    

Hannout has previously filed suit against the Highland Park Police Department for discrimination. The department settled in 2017.  


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, 908-534-8407 

CAIR-NJ Offers Condolences on Passing of New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver, the First Black Woman to be Speaker of the General Assembly

CAIR-NJ Offers Condolences on Passing of New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver, the First Black Woman to be Speaker of the General Assembly    

(NEWARK, NJ, 08/01/2023) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today offered condolences on the passing of New Jersey Lieutenant Governor, Sheila Y. Oliver.   

Oliver died at age 71 after she was hospitalized this week for an undisclosed medical issue, her family and the Murphy administration announced on Tuesday.   

SEE: Statement from Gov. Murphy on the Passing of Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver    

Oliver served as the state’s lieutenant governor since 2018. She concurrently served as the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, where she led efforts to strengthen and expand initiatives for fair and affordable housing, community revitalization, homelessness prevention, and local government services that support New Jersey’s 565 municipalities.     

In 2010, she became the first Black woman in state history to serve as Assembly Speaker, and just the second in the nation’s history to lead a state legislative house.    

In 2021, Oliver was reelected to serve a second term in office as Lieutenant Governor.   

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

“I extend my deepest condolences to the Lieutenant Governor’s loved ones and to the Murphy administration. I wish them peace during their grieving period.”    

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Government Affairs Manager Madina P. Ouedraogo said:   

“I offer my sincere condolences to the late Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey Sheila Y. Oliver’s family, friends, and the entire Murphy Administration.    

“The Lieutenant Governor’s legacy and impact as the first Black woman to be Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly and the second Black woman to lead any state legislature will live on.”   

Senate President Nicholas P. Scutari (LD-22), a fellow Democrat, has assumed the duties of Acting Governor in Governor Murphy’s absence and in light of Oliver’s passing. No public events are currently on his schedule. 


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,, 551-221-5592 

CAIR-NJ Congratulates Dr. Jabeen Ahmed on Appointment as VP for NJ State Board of Pharmacy

CAIR-NJ Congratulates Dr. Jabeen Ahmed on Appointment as VP for NJ State Board of Pharmacy        

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 7/20/2023) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today congratulated Dr. Jabeen Ahmed on her appointment to the New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy as vice president.   

Dr. Ahmed is likely the first Muslim to be appointed to such a position. She is also a board member of the Paterson Coalition Against Substance Abuse and Commissioner of the Passaic County Board of Social Services. 

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh previously honored Dr. Jabeen Ahmed with the Key to the City for her efforts during the COVID pandemic. The City of Paterson said that Dr. Ahmed was instrumental in Paterson achieving the highest vaccination rates in the state through her work at Sheefa Pharmacy.   

SEE: Paterson doctor honored with Key to the City for efforts in the community during COVID-19 pandemic   

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

“Dr. Jabeen Ahmed has played a pivotal role in uplifting the Muslim community in New Jersey and the Paterson and Passaic communities at large through her pharmaceutical work.   

“We’re exceptionally proud of her and we’re excited to see her accomplish more and reach more professional and personal milestones.    

“In her new role at the New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy, Dr. Ahmed paves the way for Muslims — and Muslim women especially — to continue excelling and serving their respective communities.”   

In a statement, New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy Vice President Dr. Jabeen Ahmed said:  

“I am humbled to have the confidence and support of my colleagues and board members to serve as the Vice President for the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy.     

“As a woman, and the first Muslim to serve in this role, there is an added responsibility — a responsibility to encourage diversity, provide insight into the challenges of minorities and those living in inner cities, and, most importantly, a responsibility to continue carrying my faith-based values in this new capacity.     

“I did not seek this endeavor, but I hope it encourages more women, especially Muslim women, to seek positions where we can protect and serve the public effectively. I look forward to being a student and a guide on issues of focus, such as women’s health and substance use disorders.”   

The State Board of Pharmacy, which falls under the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, works to protect the health, safety, and welfare of New Jersey residents. The Board also regulates pharmaceutical practices, reviews regulations and legislation that govern the practice of pharmacy, and issues (or withdraws) practicing licenses. 


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,, 551-221-5592  

CAIR-NJ, Partners Call on Clifton City Council to Uphold Free Speech, Reject Controversial IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

CAIR-NJ, Partners Call on Clifton City Council to Uphold Free Speech, Reject Controversial IHRA Definition of Antisemitism 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 07/18/2023) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today joined community partners in calling on the Clifton City Council to uphold the principles of free speech and to reject the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.   

The Clifton City Council will be deliberating on adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism on Tuesday, July 18 at a general council meeting at 8pm.    

Antisemitism is generally defined as prejudice against and/or hatred of those who identify as Jewish or are associated with Judaism. The IHRA definition of antisemitism expands antisemitism to also include critiques or criticisms of Israel, including Israeli settler colonialism, occupation of the West Bank, its apartheid leveraged against Palestinians, and the ethnic cleansing and oppression of the Palestinian people. Numerous human rights groups, including the major Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, have found these to be violations of international human rights law.   

SEE: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance muzzles critics of Israel   

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Government Affairs Manager Madina P. Ouedraogo said:        

“The IHRA definition wrongly conflates criticisms of Israel with antisemitism. It silences political debate and muzzles critics of Israel and its far-right racist government. It also delegitimizes the Palestinian movement for self-determination.   

“Adopting the IHRA definition in any capacity poses a threat to residents’ free speech and stifles political discourse in the classroom. We are optimistic that the Clifton City Council will protect residents’ rights and reject the definition.”   

In a statement, Palestinian American Community Center Executive Director Rania Mustafa said:   

“PACC was established in 2014 and over the last 9 and a half years, our existence has been a testament to the fact we have become an integral and staple part of the city of Clifton, but adopting the IHRA definition threatens the existence of our community-oriented and civic engagement work.   

“As an organization we stand firmly against any form of antisemitism, but if this resolution passes, much of our educational work will be put at risk. We cannot teach about the Palestinian struggle or for social and humanitarian justice without calling out Israel, which, based on the IHRA definition, would be deemed as antisemitic.   

“We urge the City Council to combat bigotry in all its form and shapes, but absolutely not at the expense of another community — and definitely not at the expense of our growing Palestinian community.”   

In a statement, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return Co-Founder David Letwin said:   

“As a Jewish resident of Northern New Jersey, and a descendant of victims of antisemitic violence, from Tsarist pogroms to the Holocaust, I strongly urge you not to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘Working Definition of Antisemitism.’ 

 “Misrepresenting itself as a framework for understanding antisemitism, the IHRA definition is in fact a contrivance to smear and silence those who rightly condemn the racism inherent in Zionism and the apartheid Israeli regime.     

“Formally enshrining the sham IHRA definition will serve no purpose other than to undermine local solidarity with Palestinians seeking justice throughout their historic homeland. I once again implore you to reject it.”   

SEE: NJ Palestine solidarity organizations oppose resolution to adopt IHRA antisemitism definition   

In a statement, American Muslims for Palestine New Jersey Chair Wassim Kanaan said:   

“IHRA’s weaponizing of anti-Semitism as a means to stifle advocacy for Palestinian human rights is unethical.    

“Criticism of Israel is rooted in its oppressive policies toward the Palestinian people, not identity. The effort to adopt IHRA in Clifton is not isolated, rather it is part of a broader plan to stop the growing shift in American public opinion calling for Justice for the Palestinian people.” 


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,, 551-221-5592

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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).

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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CAIR New Jersey’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.


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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