CAIR-NJ Welcomes New Jersey Public School Districts’ Trend of Adding Eid to Academic Calendars

CAIR-NJ Welcomes New Jersey Public School Districts’ Trend of Adding Eid to Academic Calendar   

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 2/27/2023) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed a recent trend by New Jersey public school districts of adding Eid to the 2023-2024 academic calendar and closing schools in observance of the Muslim holiday.    

Fair Lawn Board of Education is one of the newest districts to add Eid ul-Fitr to the 2023-24 academic year and close schools in observance.    

The board’s unanimous decision, which was voted on February 23, comes after parents’ and students’ advocacy efforts, which recently organized under the umbrella group, Fair Lawn Muslim Community  

SEE: Fair Lawn Schools Add Eid to Holiday Calendar, Pull Easter Monday   

[NOTE: There are two major “Eid” holidays for Muslims. Eid ul-Adha (EED-UL-ADHA), commonly referred to as just “Eid,” is associated with the pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, and commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail at God’s command. The holiday is celebrated with prayers, small gifts for children, distribution of meat to the needy, and social gatherings. During Eid ul-Fitr (EED-UL-FITTER) or “feast of fast breaking” holiday at the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan, Muslims offer public prayers, exchange social visits and seek to strengthen family and community bonds.]       

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Outreach Coordinator Zaid Hussein said:    

“We’re proud of the students and parents in Fair Lawn who’ve pushed for this accommodation, and we’re grateful to the Fair Lawn Board of Education for making this a smooth and graceful process.     

“New Jersey has the largest percentage of Muslims across the U.S., at 3.5 percent, so it only makes sense that more and more public schools in New Jersey would begin closing in observance of Eid. We’re optimistic that this accommodation across New Jersey schools will inspire conversations among students and staff that can be instrumental in pushing back against anti-Muslim bigotry.     

“Given the growing trend of schools closing in observance of Eid, we’re hopeful that more schools will follow Fair Lawn’s lead, and we’ve created a toolkit to help students and parents in their advocacy efforts.”   

He noted that Washington, D.C., based CAIR offers a booklet, called “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for Muslim students.        

In a statement, President of Fair Lawn Muslim Community Waseem Mohammed said:   

“Closing schools for Eid is a necessary and long overdue accommodation. For the first time, our children will no longer have to choose between going to school and celebrating their holidays. With this vote, the Fair Lawn Board of Education adhered to its principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion.   

“We’re grateful to the Fair Lawn board of education for listening to students and parents. We hope that this tradition of closing schools in observance of Eid can continue for years to come, and that other boards of education across the state will replicate the model of Fair Lawn.”   

CAIR-NJ has tracked nearly 30 school closures for Eid ul-Fitr in 2022-2023. Nearly ten districts added school closures in observance of Eid For the 2023-2024 academic year, including Boonton, East Brunswick, Fanwood & Scotch Plains, Holmdel, Livingston, Warren, and Watchung Borough.    

CAIR-NJ has also written to local municipalities in an open letter urging them to close schools in observance of Eid ul-Fitr.   

SEE: CAIR-NJ Eid Map   

SEE: CAIR-NJ Eid Advocacy Open Letter  

The Open Letter states in part:  

“As such, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations joins Muslim students, parents, and educators throughout the state in calling upon local municipalities to adopt Eid as a day off in the academic calendar. This is a necessary accommodation that will help ensure that Muslim students and staff do not face academic and professional disadvantages for missing school days to meet their religious obligations.    

“Approximately 30 school districts throughout New Jersey closed for Eid ul-Fitr in the 2022-2023 academic year. In December 2022, Warren Township decided to close schools for Eid ul-Fitr beginning in 2023-24. A few towns over, the Watchung Borough Board of Education moved to designate Eid ul-Fitr as a Staff Professional Development Day in 2024, closing schools for students. Hillside, Mount Olive, West Windsor, and Plainsboro public schools also give students time off to observe Eid.    

“Other districts, however, only offer an excused absence, leaving students in a quagmire: Should they prioritize their academic obligations over their religious duties, or vice versa?”   

 

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

END      

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, dsayedahmed@cair.com, 551-221-5592 

CAIR-NJ, NJVRA NOW Coalition Rally in Trenton in Support of a Stronger Version of John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New Jersey

CAIR-NJ, NJVRA NOW Coalition Rally in Trenton in Support of a Stronger Version of John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New Jersey 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 2/24/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) joined the New Jersey Voting Rights Act NOW Coalition at the State House in Trenton on Tuesday, Feb. 21 to call on state legislators to pass a strong version of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New Jersey (A4554/S2997) (NJVRA).   

NJVRA (A4554/S2997) is currently pending in the New Jersey Legislature.    

According to the NJVRA NOW Coalition, the NJVRA must: 

  • Establish a New Jersey preclearance program that makes local governments with a history of discrimination prove to the state or to a court in New Jersey that certain changes they make to the voting process will not harm voters of color before those changes can go into effect;  
  • Provide new legal tools to fight discriminatory voting rules and procedures in court;   
  • Expand language assistance for voters with limited English proficiency;   
  • Include strong protections against voter intimidation, deception or obstruction at the polls; 
  • Instruct state judges to interpret election laws in a pro-voter way whenever possible; and; 
  • Ensure local and state voting laws, procedures and regulations do not deny voters of color and other protected categories of voters the right to cast their vote. 

SEE: Over 50 Groups Rally to Urge Passage of New Jersey Voting Rights Act 

SEELive Stream of the Press Conference    

Since the 2016 election, there has been a national surge in voter suppression bills. Although New Jersey is one of the states that has proactively introduced legislation to expand voting access, there are still many remaining issues that obstruct equal access to the ballot.    

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

“Marginalized and vulnerable communities need better voting rights protections, and passing a stronger version of the NJVRA is critical to meeting this need.     

“We cannot boast of a strong and vibrant democracy if a large percentage of Americans are experiencing voter suppression. We stand with our coalition partners in calling on the state legislature to pass this bill, especially as we draw nearer to local elections here in New Jersey and, in a year from now, the 2024 presidential election.”   

She noted that CAIR maintains a non-partisan “Muslims Vote” campaign designed to empower American Muslims by increasing their political capacity and presence.  

GO TO: muslims.vote

 

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

END       

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, dsayedahmed@cair.com, 551-221-5592 

CAIR, CAIR-NJ Offer Condolences on Passing of Zarinah Shakir

CAIR, CAIR-NJ Offer Condolences on Passing of Zarinah Shakir

(WASHINGTON D.C., 2/6/23) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today offered its condolences on the passing of media personality and community activist Zarinah Shakir.

Shakir was the producer of an Interfaith television program and former producer/host of “The Struggle Continues” on WPFW 89.3FM radio, WDC (Pacifica Network). She produced two documentaries about African-American Pioneer Muslim women on WDC. Shakir studied Broadcast Journalism and Mass Communications at San Francisco State University and Creative Arts Interdisciplinary (graduate) at San Francisco State University. In 2014, she was awarded Best in Media during the Golden Minaret Awards.

SEE: DCTV Member Zarinah Shakir on CNN 

In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:

“To God we belong and to Him we return. We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Sister Zarinah Shakir. Sr. Zarinah was a great friend of CAIR and a tremendous asset and inspiration for the Muslim and interfaith communities. She will be greatly missed.” 

CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:

“To God we belong and to Him we return. The New Jersey Muslim community mourns the death of Sr. Zarinah Shakir. She was supportive of CAIR-NJ and a warm presence in our community. We will miss having her contribute her wealth of knowledge and experience at future events.”  

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

END

CONTACT: CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530, e-Mitchell@cair.com; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ismail Allison, 202-770-6280, iallison@cair.com

CAIR-NJ Welcomes State Senate’s Passing of Muslim Heritage Month Resolution, Calls on Assembly to Follow Suit

CAIR-NJ Welcomes State Senate’s Passing of Muslim Heritage Month Resolution, Calls on Assembly to Follow Suit

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 2/3/2023) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed the State Senate’s passing of Senate Joint Resolution [SJR105] designating January of each year as “Muslim Heritage Month” in New Jersey and calls on the Assembly to follow suit and pass Assembly Joint Resolution [AJR194].

Earlier this month, CAIR-NJ joined New Jersey community leaders and coalition partners at the Senate Chambers in support of the Senate Joint Resolution. Late last year, CAIR-NJ testified in support of the resolution, calling attention to the state’s growing Muslim population.

SEE: CAIR-NJ, Community Leaders Testify in Support of Muslim Heritage Month Resolution

The joint resolution was sponsored by Senator Pennacchio (LD-26) and Senator Stack (LD-33) and co-sponsored by Senator Bucco (LD-25), Senator Durr (LD-3), Senator Turner (LD-15), Senator Gopal (LD-11), Senator Greenstein (LD-14), Senator Lagana (LD-38), Senator Pou (LD-35) and Senator Zwicker (LD-16).

It calls upon local government agencies and interested government organizations to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and education programs acknowledging, promoting awareness of, and appreciating Muslim Americans and recognizing the contributions of New Jersey Muslims.

SEE: Pennacchio Bill to Establish Muslim Heritage Month in NJ Advances

New Jersey has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in the U.S., at 3 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. New Jersey also leads the way for local representation, with over 40 elected officials. Last year, the state elected the first ever Muslims to the New Jersey State Legislature, Assemblywomen Sadaf Jaffer (LD-16) and Shama Haidar (LD-37).

Still, however, anti-Muslim incidents are on the rise. CAIR-NJ received over 160 calls for help in 2022 alone. The joint resolution seeks to push back against anti-Muslim bigotry by celebrating American Muslims.

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

“Given the growing population of Muslims in New Jersey, it is only appropriate that the State Legislature recognize and acknowledge that diverse and vibrant community.

“We are excited to see the resolution move through the Senate, and we are optimistic that the State Assembly will do the same. We are hopeful that New Jersey will soon recognize January as a month dedicated to celebrating Muslims.

“In tandem with our coalition partners and community members, we call upon the Assembly State and Local Government Committee to hold a public hearing on the Assembly Joint Resolution [AJR194] and release it from the Assembly Committee so that it may move to an Assembly voting session and pass.”

In August last year, Senator Cory Booker submitted a resolution to recognize Muslim American heritage month.

SEE: CAIR-NJ Welcomes Senator Booker’s Resolution to Recognize Muslim-American Heritage Month

Coalition Partners:
American Muslims for Democracy

American Muslims for Palestine-New Jersey

Black Lives Matter – Paterson

Bergen County Islamic Education Center
Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University

Center for Security, Race and Rights

Council of Imams in New Jersey

Faith in New Jersey
ICNA Council for Social Justice

Indian American Muslim Council

Islamic Center of Morris County

Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, Inc.

Jews for Palestinian Right of Return

League of Women Voters of New Jersey

Make the Road New Jersey
Maroc Organization

Masjid Al-Imam

Masjid As’Habul Yameen Inc

Masjid Muhammad – Newark

Masjid Shuhada

Masjid Ul Wadud of Montclair

Muslims 4 Peace
Muslim League of Voters of New Jersey
New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice

New Jersey Consortium for Immigrant Children

Newark Communities for Accountable Policing

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association

New Jersey Muslim Voice for Progress
New Jersey Sisterhood

North NJ Democratic Socialist of American BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group

Northern NJ Jewish Voice for Peace

Palestinian American Community Center

Salvation and Social Justice

Teaching While Muslim

Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center

 

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

END          

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, dsayedahmed@cair.com, 551-221-5592

CAIR-NJ to Attend NJ Senate Voting Session on Muslim Heritage Month Resolution

CAIR-NJ to Attend NJ Senate Voting Session on Muslim Heritage Month Resolution     

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 02/01/2023) — On Wednesday, Feb. 2, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) will join New Jersey community leaders at the Senate Chambers in support of the Muslim Heritage Month resolution [SJR105]. State Senators are expected to vote on the joint resolution at 2pm.     

WHEN: Wednesday, February 2, 2023, at 2 p.m.                

WHERE: 135 W State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608     

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, dsayedahmed@cair.com, 551-221-5592           

The joint resolution, which designates January of each year as “Muslim Heritage Month” in New Jersey, is sponsored by Senator Pennacchio (LD-26) and Senator Stack (LD-33) and co-sponsored by Senator Bucco (LD-25), Senator Durr (LD-3), Senator Turner (LD-15), and Senator Gopal (LD-11). It calls upon local government agencies and interested government organizations to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and education programs acknowledging, promoting awareness of, and appreciating Muslim Americans and recognizing the contributions of New Jersey Muslims.     

SEE: Pennacchio Bill to Establish Muslim Heritage Month in NJ Advances  

SEE: New Jersey lawmakers considering resolution to establish January as Muslim Heritage Month   

New Jersey has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in the U.S., at 3 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. New Jersey also leads the way for local representation, with over 40 elected officials. Last year, the state elected the first ever Muslims to the New Jersey State Legislature, Assemblywomen Sadaf Jaffer (LD-16) and Shama Haidar (LD-37).         

Still, however, anti-Muslim incidents are on the rise. CAIR-NJ received over 150 calls for help in 2022 alone. The resolution seeks to combat anti-Muslim bigotry by celebrating Muslim Americans and shedding a positive light on the community. 

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

   

END          

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, dsayedahmed@cair.com, 551-221-5592