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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.

US Hindu nationalist groups: What could this mean for Muslims and minorities?

US Hindu nationalist groups: What could this mean for Muslims and minorities?

A The New Arab Exclusive Article.

Published September 27th, 2022 | By Dina Sayedahmed and Hamzah Khan

As millions of Muslims in India face the threat of genocide under Modi’s government, Dina Sayedahmed and Hamzah Khan warn about the dangerous impact of affiliated Hindu nationalist groups on minorities in New Jersey, US.

With pockets of Middlesex County in New Jersey dubbed “Little India,” the area has long boasted of a thriving Indian American population. As a whole, New Jersey is home to at least 10% of US migrants from India, according to a study by Migration Policy. Middlesex County, specifically, is among the top four counties where immigrants from India have resettled, second only to Santa Clara County in California.

Not only has the Indian American diaspora brought forth a rich diversity to the region’s cultural and business centres, but schools in the area also rank in the top percentages in the state of New Jersey. Real estate networks sell Edison as a town with a booming economy, progressing from being a manufacturing city to one that offers technological and innovation-based business ventures.

More recently, however, the area’s politics and cultural hubs have been overtaken by Hindutva groups — a political ideology that refers to the predominant form of Hindu nationalism in India. This has deepened a rift between Middlesex County’s Indian American diaspora, and yielded a less optimistic future, from cultural and heritage celebrations in the area to local elections.

 ”Hindu nationalist groups hosted then-Republican nominee Donald Trump in Edison for a charity event in the weeks before the 2016 election. At the event, he praised India for helping fight terrorism, a phrase that has become code for institutionalising Islamophobia through crackdowns on Muslims.”

Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election in 2014, Hindutva has steadily risen to prominence in India. His ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), stokes hatred of Muslims and other minority groups in India through its policies and rhetoric.

One of the BJP’s former social media heads, Arun Yadav, had likened one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Kaabah in Makkah, to an ice cube in a glass of whiskey. Another former BJP leader, Nupur Sharma, who was a spokesperson for the party, made anti-Islamic remarks on a televised debate that triggered demonstrations across the globe. Though both BJP leaders were consequently suspended, the comments themselves are a window into the prevailing culture within the BJP, which has traveled to and infiltrated some pockets of the Indian American diaspora through groups like the Hindu American Political Action Committee (HAPAC), the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OSFBJP), the Indian Businesses Association in NJ (IBA), and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS).

One group in particular, the IBA, has been especially active in New Jersey’s Middlesex County. During the India Independence Day parade, an annual event organised in the area – which is normally a celebration of Indian culture and heritage – the IBA decided to include a bulldozer decorated with images of known Hindu nationalists and BJP leaders, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. What may seem like an awkward but otherwise unproblematic place for a construction vehicle, bulldozers carry different implications in the context of India.

Over the past few months especially, bulldozers have become a vehicle of injustice in India and a symbol of anti-Muslim animus. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, specifically, is infamous for ruthlessly implementing “bulldozer justice,” a term coined by Amnesty International that refers to India’s unlawful demolitions of minority groups’ homes. His supporters refer to him as “Baba Bulldozer.”

In the wake of the parade, and after mounting pressure from advocacy groups including CAIR-NJ, both NJ senators, Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, condemned the IBA’s actions. However, Edison council member Ajay Patil — who is also a Vice President of the IBA — dismissed the anti-Muslim animus behind the use of the bulldozer.

While the inclusion of a bulldozer at the India Independence Day parade sounded alarms across the state, the infiltration of Hindutva into local NJ communities long predates this event. The OFBJP and HSS have a history of operating in New Jersey and funding Hindutva groups in India. A report by the South Asia Citizen Web detailed the financial information and expenditures of 24 Hindu nationalist-affiliated groups. The report found that seven Sangh-affiliated charitable groups spent nearly $160 million on their programming, which includes sending funds to Hindu nationalist groups in India.

Just weeks ago, the New Jersey chapter of Param Shakti Peeth of America, a charitable non-profit, organised a fundraiser at a Ridgewood church featuring Hindu nationalist ideologue Sadhvi Rithambara. The church reverend, Robert Miller, cancelled the event just days in advance after learning of Rithambara’s background. Last year, New Jersey legislators went as far as honoring the World Hindu Council/Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHP), a group that has continually tried to downplay its links to Hindu nationalists in India despite organising — and then cancelling after facing pressure — a series of events hosting known Hindu nationalists.

In 2020, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation into Indian IT firm, Nityo Infotech, following a recruiter’s email specifying to not recruit Muslims. Local school board races have also seen Hindutva influence: Two Hindu-American locals and a New Jersey board of education member, Nitang Patel, signed onto anti-Muslim flyers that were later distributed to Gujarati households in Piscataway, a suburb of Middlesex County, in the lead up to the town’s 2019 Democratic primary. A School Ethics Commission later found that Patel should be censured for violating multiple provisions of the School Ethics Act.

In another instance, Audrey Trushcke, a professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in New Jersey, came under fire for pointing out that Hindutva groups in NJ were inspired by fascists and Nazis.

Hindu nationalist groups also hosted then-Republican nominee Donald Trump in Edison for a charity event in the weeks before the 2016 election. At the event, he praised India for helping fight terrorism, a phrase that has become code for institutionalising Islamophobia through crackdowns on Muslims. The Pennsylvania chapter of the VHP hosted a “Modi Victory Celebration Dinner” in 2014, a sharp contrast to its claims of being a benign group with no political leanings.

“We must prepare to either kill or be killed,” Hindu nationalist and religious leader Swami Prabodhananda Giri said last year at a conference in New Delhi, prompting an investigation by India’s Supreme Court — a court that is predominantly occupied by Hindu judges. Muslims and other minority groups in India have faced existential threats since Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi consolidated power with his reelection in 2014, and Genocide Watch has warned of an impending genocide of Muslims in India.

At its core the Hindutva movement, which has been broiling since the colonial partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, is both a Hindu nationalist as well as an anti-Muslim movement that goes largely unchallenged by democracies around the world. In the US, elected officials wine and dine with Hindutva-affiliated groups like the Hindu American Political Action Committee (HPAC), and in New Jersey, specifically, elected officials like Frank Pallone march and shake hands with Hindutva-leaning groups like the IBA.

If democracies around the world continue to ignore the rising threats of Hindutva, India’s 204 million Muslims could face ethnic cleansing. As its influence grows among New Jersey’s Indian diaspora, communities that once boasted of success risk creating a hostile environment and an increase in anti-Muslim attacks and harassment.

Dina Sayedahmed is the Communications Manager at CAIR-NJ, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties organisation.

Hamzah Khan is the legal research intern at CAIR-NJ and a student of international relations at Seton Hall University School of Diplomacy and International Relations.

Anti-boycott laws are an affront to free speech. They also don’t address antisemitism

Anti-boycott laws are an affront to free speech.     They also don’t address antisemitism.

A NorthJersey.com exclusive article.

Published July 26th, 2022 | By Hamzah Khan

In a world where there are hundreds of companies manufacturing and selling the same product, the freedom to choose a brand is, under ordinary circumstances, basic. But in New Jersey, legislators have taken that right away.

For years, the New Jersey Legislature has wielded undue influence over political discourse regarding boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), a grassroots movement launched by Palestinian civil society to pressure Israel to comply with international law. In 2016, the state Assembly approved an anti-boycott bill, after it passed unanimously in the Senate, requiring the state to divest its pension funds from any company involved in a boycott of the state of Israel. Critics at the time warned of the violations to free speech that this posed for New Jersey residents, but then-Gov. Chris Christie nevertheless signed it into law.

Six years later, this law has been used multiple times to punish companies that choose to boycott Israel due to humanitarian concerns, with Unilever being one of the most recent cases. After a two-year campaign by multiple advocacy groups, Unilever’s subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s, announced last year that it would no longer sell its ice cream in the illegally occupied Palestinian Territories, including Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying that it was inconsistent with the company’s values to have its ice cream sold in Occupied Palestine.

After the announcement, New Jersey officials moved quickly: Within two months, they announced that the state would divest its pension fund from Ben & Jerry’s Englewood Cliffs-based parent company, Unilever. By December, New Jersey officials began to divest nearly $182 million in Unilever stocks and bonds. Fearing significant financial loss, Unilever changed course last month and sold its Ben & Jerry’s brand and trademark rights in Israel so that the company can continue to sell ice cream in Occupied Palestine, in direct contradiction to what the original ice cream company founders, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, wanted.

In 2018, the same anti-BDS law was also used against Danske Bank, the largest bank in Denmark, which held around $44 million of New Jersey’s state pension fund. The Danish bank refused to do business with two Israeli military contractors, Elbit Systems and Aryt Industries, because of their operations in Israeli settlements, which violated the company’s social policies. Danske Bank stated that they were not boycotting Israel as a whole, but only those two companies. As was the case with Unilever, even though Danske Bank argued that it was not boycotting the state of Israel, the generality of the New Jersey anti-boycott law still allowed the state to punish the bank.

New Jersey is one of more than 30 states that passed anti-BDS laws. Defenders of these laws say they are meant to stop antisemitism, but advocacy groups, including Anne Frank House, differentiate between criticisms of the Israeli government and antisemitism, with the former being political and human rights-focused and the latter being condemnable. Others have warned that conflating the two — criticisms of Israel and antisemitism — is an encroachment on free speech and an attempt to stifle political debate and advocacy for Palestinian human rights. In adopting an anti-boycott law, New Jersey is blatantly attempting to flag any criticism of Israel as unacceptable, even if it goes against the U.S. government’s own classification of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The New Jersey Legislature should do more to stop actual antisemitic hate crimes rather than target a nonviolent grassroots political movement aiming to pressure a foreign government to end its human rights abuses. The reality is that these laws prohibit criticisms of Israeli government policies. In an ironic turn of events, New Jerseyans can criticize their own government, but not the Israeli government.

Boycotts have been instrumental in human rights campaigns both within the U.S. and around the world. Boycotts played a prominent role in ending segregation in the U.S. during the civil rights movement and were even protected by the United States Supreme Court. Supporters of the BDS movement, which was started by Palestinian activists, note that it is modeled after the boycott movements against South Africa, which helped end the apartheid regime in that country.

The state of New Jersey is employing a glaringly obvious double standard when it engages in sanctions against Iran and Russia on the grounds of human rights abuses, yet continues to support Israel even though reputable human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, find the country guilty of crimes against humanity. The state recently invested $20 million in Israel bonds as an “affirmation” of its confidence in the state of Israel and its economy, Gov. Phil Murphy said at the time.

At the end of the day, the right to boycott is essential to free speech, and the state’s hypocrisy only serves to strengthen human rights abusers abroad while diminishing freedoms at home.

Hamzah Khan is a legal intern at the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ New Jersey Chapter.

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CAIR-NJ, NJ Mosque to Respond to Anti-Muslim Intimidation Targeting Islamic Center, Call on Police and Local Officials to Probe Bias Motive      

MEDIA ADVISORY  

CAIR-NJ, NJ Mosque to Respond to Anti-Muslim Intimidation Targeting Islamic Center, Call on Police and Local Officials to Probe Bias Motive          

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 11/29/2022) – On Wednesday, Nov. 30, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) and members of the Muslim Center of Middlesex County (MCMC) will hold a joint press conference in Piscataway, N.J., in response to an incident of ethnic and religious harassment and perceived bias-motivated intimidation that reportedly targeted the center on Saturday, Nov. 26.      

WHEN: Wednesday, November 30 at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Muslim Center of Middlesex County (MCMC), 1000 Hoes Ln, Piscataway, NJ 08854   

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119, smaksut@cair.com   

More than 200 community members were gathered for an event at MCMC — both within the building and in the parking lot — when a truck displaying a digital billboard with photos from the 2008 Mumbai attacks circled through the masjid’s parking lot multiple times.      

The truck entered MCMC’s parking lot from the property’s back entrance at approximately 1:30 p.m., according to security footage. The truck circled the mosque parking lot twice, making stops throughout.      

Some community members were lingering in the parking lot at the time of the incident. One individual followed the truck out of the MCMC parking lot onto Route 18 North and recorded the truck as it drove off.

A police report has been filed.        

SEE: MCMC Security Footage of Bias Intimidation Incident   

SEE ALSO: Cellphone Video      

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

“The intent behind this incident is clear. By targeting a Muslim center and deliberately circling its premises repeatedly, the perpetrators expect New Jersey’s Muslim community to answer to, or even feel shame for, an event that occurred entirely independent of them.   

“Anti-Muslim intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable. They mirror the tactics used against American Muslims in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks and could lead to an uptick in anti-Muslim incidents as we’ve seen over the past two decades.    

“While everyone — even bigots — has the right to free speech, no one has the right to target religious minorities especially at their houses of worship with acts of perceived intimidation and harassment.  

“We call on local law enforcement and the FBI to investigate this incident and hold those responsible accountable. We also call on local officials to condemn this dangerous incident and the vile hatred that accompanied it in the strongest terms.”   

In a statement, the Director of the Islamic Circle of North America’s Council for Social Justice Dr. Atif Nazir said:      

“Places of worship must be respected and treated as safe sanctuaries.    

“Provocative acts of intimidation that are meant to stoke fear cannot be tolerated, and we are calling on law enforcement officials to conduct a full investigation into this hateful incident.”     

In August, CAIR-NJ called on local leaders to rebuke the offensive use of a bulldozer – which in India symbolizes societal division and anti-Muslim sentiment – at the India Independence Day parade in Edison and Woodbridge, N.J.  

Earlier this year, CAIR released a report, titled “Still Suspect: The Impact of Structural Islamophobia,” documenting more than 6,720 complaints to CAIR offices nationwide involving a range of issues including immigration and travel, workplace discrimination, denial of public accommodations, law enforcement and government overreach, hate and bias incidents, incarceree rights, school incidents, anti-BDS/free speech, among other reported issues.          

 

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

END         

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119, smaksur@cair.com    

 

CAIR-NJ, Coalition Partners Rally in Trenton in Support of Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights

CAIR-NJ, Coalition Partners Rally in Trenton in Support of Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights  

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 11/23/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) joined coalition partners, including Make the Road New Jersey, at the Capitol Building in Trenton on Monday, November 21st to call on state legislators to pass the Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights (A1474/S511).   

The Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights provides certain protections and rights for temporary laborers and could play a crucial role in redressing racial and gender wage and employment discrimination. The bill of rights would also mandate equal pay for equal work and basic disclosures around rate of pay and hours.  

SEE: Assembly: Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights  

SEE: Senate: Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights  

Black and Latino workers make up an overwhelming majority of most temporary staffing work, according to the National Employment Law Project. While Black workers represent 12.1 percent of the overall workforce, they make up 25.9 percent of temporary workers. Similarly, while Latino workers make up16.6 percent of all workers, they represent 25.4 percent of temporary workers. Due to a lack of sufficient labor protections, temporary workers are subject to precarious employment status, low pay, lack of benefits, wage theft, and even health and safety risks.  

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

“The Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights is critical legislation that will help ensure that New Jersey’s thousands of essential workers are guaranteed stronger protections within their workplaces. 

“From retail spaces to service industries, essential workers play an integral role in our daily lives. To call them essential without providing them the protections they need and deserve is inconsistent, and we join coalition groups in the exigent call for essential workers’ labor protection.”    

 

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

END    

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119, smaksur@cair.com   

CAIR-NJ Welcomes FBI Probe of Israel’s Murder of American Journalist and New Jersey Resident Shireen Abu Akleh

CAIR-NJ Welcomes FBI Probe of Israel’s Murder of American Journalist and New Jersey Resident Shireen Abu Akleh

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 11/16/22) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed reports that the FBI will investigate the Israeli military’s murder of American journalist and New Jersey resident Shireen Abu Akleh.    

Media reports indicate that the DOJ informed the Israeli Justice Ministry that the FBI has opened an investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh.    

SOURCE: FBI Opened Investigation Into Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh    

At the time of Abu Akleh’s killing, CAIR-NJ had written to Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker in June inquiring about their position on Abu Akleh’s killing, given that their signatures were absent from Senator Van Hollen’s letter to President Biden that had called for accountability. The New Jersey senators later wrote a joint letter to President Biden urging him to press for accountability for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh during his visit to the Occupied West Bank at the time.    

SEE: CAIR-NJ Letter to Sens. Menendez and Booker on Shireen Abu Akleh Killing  

SEE: CAIR-NJ Welcomes Letter by Sens. Menendez, Booker to President Biden Calling for Accountability for the Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh  

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

“As a self-proclaimed proponent of democracy and human rights, it only makes sense that U.S. intelligence launches an investigation into the Israeli military’s murder of New Jersey resident Shireen Abu Akleh, late as it may be.   

“Journalists’ work, like Abu Akleh’s, plays a critical role in dignifying local communities. When the Israeli military wields fatal attacks on journalists, this becomes an added threat to Palestinian dignity and human life.”    

In a statement, CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw said:    

“We welcome this long-delayed investigation and hope our nation will finally hold Israel accountable for its violence targeting American citizens, journalists and other civilians in the territories it occupies illegally. Violence is the inevitable result of Israel’s apartheid policies, human rights abuses and continuing occupation of Palestinian land.”    

McCaw added CAIR thanks the many members of Congress who continued to pressed the Biden administration and FBI to investigate Akleh’s murder, including Representative Andre Carson (D-IN) who announced the Justice For Shireen Act.   

SEE: Rep. Carson Announces Justice For Shireen Act   

SEE: CAIR Welcomes FBI Probe of Israel’s Murder of American Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh 

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

END 

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119, smaksut@cair.com 

CAIR-NJ, Paterson Mosque Respond to Hate Crimes, to Hold Community Lunch and Forum Promoting Safety and Mutual Understanding

CAIR-NJ, Paterson Mosque Respond to Hate Crimes, to Hold Community Lunch and Forum Promoting Safety and Mutual Understanding

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ 11/04/2022 ) – On Saturday, November 5, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) and partner organizations will hold a community lunch and forum to promote safety and mutual understanding. This event comes in response to three separate attacks on Masjid Abu Bakr (Muslim Congregation of New Jersey) in Paterson, NJ.

In December of last year, the muezzin of the Muslim Congregation of New Jersey was physically attacked as he gave the call to prayer, and in August, worshippers were pelted with rocks as they prayed. Previously, the masjid faced verbal harassment and individual community members continue to face this, with the most recent incident occurring two weeks ago. 

SEE: CAIR-NJ Condemns Bias Attack at Paterson Mosque, Welcomes Prosecutor’s Charges

SEE: CAIR-NJ Condemns Alleged Bias-Motivated Attack Targeting Paterson Mosque       

 

WHEN: Saturday, November 5, 2022 at 12:30pm

WHERE: 300-306 Preakness Ave. Paterson, NJ 07502

(Free and open to the public)

SEE: Community Forum and Lunch at Masjid Abu Bakr

 

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

“An attack on a masjid is a red line for us all.  

“We invite community members — Muslim and non-Muslim — and elected officials to learn about Islam directly from Muslims, with the objective being to address and reduce anti-Muslim biases and incidents like the ones we’ve seen targeting this specific masjid.

“Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world, and New Jersey has the largest percentage of Muslims in the U.S. It’s disappointing to see anti-Muslim incidents continuing on an upward tick, but through direct advocacy and community engagement, like this forum, we hope to see less and less incidents and eventually none at all.”  
 
 

Participating Organizations:  

Islamic Center of Passaic County  

Masjid Adam  

Masjid Salahuddin  

The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights  

American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey   

Black Lives Matter Paterson  

Bangladeshi American Women’s Development Initiative  

Women and Families Ascending Association  

Attending Guests:  

Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ 9th District)   

Elder Jerome Bishop Lane Jr., Presbytery of Northeast New Jersey  

Imam Abdul Quddoos Farra’d, Masjid Salahuddin  

Imam Mohammad Qatanani, Islamic Center of Passaic County  

Imam Mohammed S. Uddin, Islamic Congregation of North Jersey  

Joe Johnson, Policy Counsel, ACLU-NJ   

Mayor of Paterson André Sayegh  

Passaic County Commissioner Pat Lepore  

Passaic County Commissioner Terry Duffy  

Passaic County Sherriff Richard Berdnik  

Paterson City Councilman Alaa “Al” Abdelaziz – 6th Ward  

Paterson City Council Vice President Alex Mendez – 3rd Ward  

Paterson City Councilwoman – At-Large Maritza Davila   

Paterson City Councilman – At-Large  MD Forid Uddin  

Paterson City Council President Shahin Khalique – 2nd Ward  

Prospect Park City Council Member Alaa Matari  

Prospect Park Elementary School Board Member Mr. Niaz Nadim  

Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah  

Radwa Elzokm, Constituent Advocate, Office of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)  

Tisha Leonardo-Santiago,MS, The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights

 

END     

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119smaksut@cair.com

CAIR-NJ Joins the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice in Trenton for National Immigrants Day Calling for Stronger Protections for Immigrants

CAIR-NJ Joins the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice in Trenton for National Immigrants Day Calling for Stronger Protections for Immigrants

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 11/1/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) joined the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ), advocates and activists in Trenton to call for stronger, more expansive protections for the states immigrant community, including urging legislators to support and pass the Values Act (A1986/S512), Language Access Bill (A3837/S2459), and Data Disaggregation Bill (S241).

The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) hosted their Trenton Day of Action on Thursday, October 27, 2022 at the state capital in commemoration of National Immigrants Day, which celebrates immigrants and their contributions to society. NJAIJ’s Day of Action also included point of privilege recognition from Assembly Member Shama A. Haider (LD-37) commemorating National Immigrants Day and over 30 meetings with legislators.

Community members, allies and various grassroots, advocacy, and organizing groups such as the ACLU of New Jersey, the New Jersey Policy Perspective, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Make the Road New Jersey, American Friends Services Committee, 32BJ SEIU, Unidad Latino en Accion, New Labor, Consortium for Immigrant Children, Wind of the Spirit, New and Labor joined the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice in amplifying and garnering support for passage of the Values Act (S512 / A1986), the New Jersey’s Language Access Bill (S2459 / A3837), and the Data Disaggregation Bill  (S2415).

Roughly one in four New Jerseyans identifies as an immigrant, and New Jersey has the second-highest proportion of immigrants in the nation. The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) core priority bills foster stronger protections for marginalized immigrant and BIPOC communities that constitute a growing population of the state.

SEE: Immigrants Gather in Trenton For National Immigrants Day 

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

“American Muslims represent the most ethnic diversity within religious groups in America. As such, CAIR-NJ supports language access legislation, which is critical to bridging the gaps between marginalized and non-English speaking communities and public resources. 

“If language access legislation (S2459 / A3837) passes, the state would be required to provide translation and interpretation services in the 15 most common non-English languages per U.S. Census data.”

 

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

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119, smaksur@cair.com

CAIR-NJ Welcomes the City of Paterson’s Allocation of $600,000 to Paterson Municipal Court to Establish a Community Court Program

CAIR-NJ Welcomes the City of Paterson’s Allocation of $600,000 to Paterson Municipal Court to Establish a Community Court Program

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 11/01/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed the City of Paterson’s allocation of $600,000 to establish a community court program within the Paterson Municipal Court. 

The program would implement rehabilitative initiatives for residents and offenders who have been charged with low-level, non-violent crimes. 

Through the program, participants may be eligible for non-punitive divisionary measures such as mental health services, health care, education employment placement, job training, substance abuse treatment, community services, and financial and housing assistance.  

The city of Paterson also seeks to launch a hybrid approach to connecting defendants to direct services and support in addition to granting referrals to contracting community-based organizations and treatments providers.      

SEE: Press Release        

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

“CAIR-NJ commends the city of Paterson for implementing harm reduction and non-punitive response measures within its municipal court system. We commend the city of Paterson for taking steps to address injustices and inequities within New Jersey’s criminal justice system and hope other New Jersey cities follow its model.”  

  

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

 END        

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119, smaksur@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).

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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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
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