CAIR-NJ Expresses Concern Over Teaneck Zoning Board Member’s Bigoted Comment About Islamic Center

CAIR-NJ Expresses Concern Over Teaneck Zoning Board Member’s Bigoted Comment About Islamic Center   

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 9/22/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today expressed concerned over a Teaneck zoning board member’s bigoted comment directed at a proposed Islamic center in Teaneck.     

CAIR-NJ is further concerned by the zoning board’s alleged prolonging of the application process.     

After purchasing the former Longfellow School on Oakdene Avenue in Teaneck in 2018, which most recently was used as a church with day care, the Al Ummah Community Center made plans to establish an Islamic community center with facilities for recreation, childcare, education, and prayer. After facing push back from residents and zoning board members alike, the group is now suing Teaneck, alleging discrimination in the form of burdensome and costly requirements not asked of other applicants.   

During court testimonies, it came to light that Edward Mulligan, a Teaneck zoning board member, muttered a bigoted comment about pickup by camel a stereotypical reference to Arabs when members were discussing car and bus pickup procedures for the proposed Islamic center.     

SEE: Tensions simmer over Islamic Center plans in Teaneck     

The same board member also commented, “Would you trust these people with your children?” when talking about the Islamic center’s school, according to court documents.      

SEE: Deposition   

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

“While disappointing and wholly unacceptable, this isn’t entirely surprising. We’ve seen this same scenario play out in several other New Jersey towns.     

“We call on Teaneck Mayor James Dunleavy to condemn Edward Mulligan’s anti-Muslim remarks and to support his Muslim community in its quest for a community center. Every religious group has the right to establish houses of worship and community centers, and Muslims are no exception to this.     

“At the end of the day, Islamic centers, like the one that Al Ummah is proposing, uplift the community they serve. It is of no benefit to delay and deny Muslim groups this right because, as we’ve seen in Bayonne, Bridgewater, Basking Ridge, Washington Township, and Vineland, eventually, civil rights and procedure will win.”   

  

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 Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119, smaksut@cair.com 

 

CAIR-NJ, TWM Introduce Educators’ Guide for Classroom Discussions of 9/11  

CAIR-NJ, TWM Introduce Educators’ Guide for Classroom Discussions of 9/11  

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 09/08/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) and Teaching While Muslim today introduced an educator’s guide to classroom discussions surrounding 9/11.   

The advocacy group shared these resources and has contacted nearly 30 NJ school districts comprising of over 55 public schools. 

The guide includes lesson plans and curriculum guides that will help teachers develop a more nuanced approach to the subject of 9/11 and its impact on Muslim students. It includes essential questions, such as the significance of 9/11, the rise in anti-Muslim bullying in schools, and resources on how to combat Islamophobia in the classroom. Organizers are requesting school administrators to circulate the guides among their educators and staff. 

SEE: Muslim Studies Curriculum  

SEE: An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices 

SEE: CAIR-NJ, TWM Curriculum Guide Letter to Educators 

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

“Muslim students have long reported incidents of bullying related to their religion and ethnic background to our office, sometimes triggered by inappropriate comments made in classrooms on anniversaries of September 11, 2001. We are hopeful that this guide will help educators and students adopt a proactive approach to Islamophobia in the classroom.   

“It is also imperative that students have a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, including the hate crimes, illegal discrimination, government abuses and wars overseas that continue to impact not only American Muslims, but the American people and people around the world.” 

 In a statement, Teaching While Muslim Founding Executive Director Nagla Bedir and Assistant Director Maheen Ahmad said:  “Although it has been more than 20 years since 2001, there is still an extensive amount of misinformation about 9/11 that contributes to an inaccurate understanding of the world. 

“However, as educators ourselves, we believe it is a teacher’s responsibility to not perpetuate misinformation of any kind in the classroom.   

“Misinformation around 9/11, Muslims, and Islam are the primary causes of anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia in schools. It is a teacher’s duty to educate themselves before touching upon topics they aren’t familiar with in their classrooms. This teacher’s guide is intended to alleviate the job of educators by providing them with comprehensive resources and lesson plans to better understand what happened on that tragic day and the lasting national and global repercussions.”  

CAIR-NJ documented at least 22 incidents of anti-Muslim incidents in New Jersey public schools during the 2021-2022 calendar years.  

In one incident, a Ridgefield teacher said, “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” when a Muslim student asked for an extension on his homework. In another incident, a New Jersey middle school teacher called people from Afghanistan and Pakistan terrorists.  

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 Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119smaksut@cair.com.  

 

 

CAIR-NJ Welcomes South Plainfield Mayor’s Statement Denouncing White Supremacist Group at Labor Day Parade  

CAIR-NJ Welcomes South Plainfield Mayor’s Statement Denouncing White Supremacist Group at Labor Day Parade 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 09/07/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed South Plainfield Mayor Matthew Anesh’s statement denouncing the European Heritage Association (EHA), a white supremacist organization, after members of that group took part in the South Plainfield Labor Day parade carrying an anti-immigration banner. 

South Plainfield City Council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday night to address the group’s presence at the parade, which caught town officials by surprise, according to the mayor. During the parade, EHA members held a banner that read, “Defend American labor. Close the border.”     

“None of us condoned this group, believe in what they believe in, or welcome them to this parade or the community,” Anesh said during the meeting.   

SEE: South Plainfield mayor addresses residents’ concerns after white supremacist group shows up at Labor Day parade 

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

“We thank the mayor for responding to his constituents in a timely manner and strongly condemning the white supremacist group.   

“We encourage local communities to be proactive in the face of white supremacy. Being ‘not racist’ is not enough — we must be anti-racist ourselves and invest in anti-racist education.” 

In a statement, Perth Amboy Area Branch NAACP member Jimmy Dabrowski said: 

“The Perth Amboy Area Branch NAACP unequivocally denounces the New Jersey European Heritage Association.    

“We call on all South Plainfield elected and appointed officials to join us in condemning this defined white supremacist hate group.”   

SEE: White supremacists crashed N.J. town’s Labor Day parade, mayor says   

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 Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, 908-267-3119smaksut@cair.com