CAIR-NJ Welcomes Sen. Edward Durr’s Resolution Condemning China’s Oppression of Uyghur Muslims, Calls on State House to Support   

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Sen. Edward Durr’s Resolution Condemning China’s Oppression of Uyghur Muslims, Calls on State House to Support   

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 1/20/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed state Senator Edward Durr’s proposed resolution in support of Uyghur Muslims. CAIR-NJ said lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle nationwide must come together to oppose China’s genocide.

State Senator Durr is introducing a legislative resolution condemning China’s oppressive treatment of Uyghur Muslims in that nation’s Xinjiang region, an autonomous area in western China.

 

SEE: Durr Resolution Supports Oppressed Ethnic Minority Group in China  

 https://www.senatenj.com/index.php/durr/durr-resolution-supports-oppressed-ethnic-minority-group-in-china/55921

 

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

We welcome Senator Durr’s proposed resolution condemning China’s oppression of Uyghur Muslims. Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle nationwide must come together to oppose this genocide.  

As Senator Durr has stated, we too hope passing this resolution in New Jersey will help bring about increased pressure against Chinese oppression.  

“Other New Jersey statehouse representatives must also make it clear they stand against religious persecution and push this resolution forward as quickly as possible.”  

 

Maksut also noted in January 2020 CAIR-NJ applauded Governor Phil Murphy for his statement on oppressive policies toward Muslims in China, Myanmar, and India.

On January 3, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued a statement expressing concern for the oppressive policies toward Muslims in China, Myanmar, and India.

In his statement Governor Murphy calls the Uyghur crisis an “egregious violation of their human rights;” the Myanmar crisis “one of the world’s most abhorrent state-sanctioned policies of repression and annihilation;” and called for India to abandon its “restrictive and intolerant” citizenship law that “threatens its long and proud history as a secular and diverse democratic nation.”

Governor Murphy ended by saying, “It is time for all nations, including ours, to take firm and unequivocal stances against the narrow thinking that is fueling these divisions and embrace the world as it should be — tolerant, pluralistic, and interconnected.”

SEE: CAIR-NJ Applauds Governor Murphy’s Statement on Oppressive Policies Toward Muslims in China, Myanmar, and India 

https://cair-nj.org/cair-nj-applauds-governor-murphys-statement-on-oppressive-policies-toward-muslims-in-china-myanmar-and-india/

 

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

END 

CAIR-NJ Decries Teaneck’s Denial of Islamic Center’s Building Permit Application  

CAIR-NJ Decries Teaneck’s Denial of Islamic Center’s Building Permit Application  

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 12/17/2021) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today expressed concern over the Teaneck Zoning board’s denial of Al Ummah Community Center’s building permit application. The Zoning Board sent the application to the Board of Adjustments, who also denied it.

AUCC’s owners say they have spent over $400,000 on township fees and professionals since their launch in June of 2018 due in large part to the obstacles and barriers presented by Teaneck’s Zoning Board.

The Proposed Islamic center has filed a discrimination lawsuit in federal court against Teaneck and its zoning board, claiming the township blocked its application by imposing oppressive requirements and draining the not-for-profit’s pockets, all the while granting approvals to substantial developments through Teaneck.

AUCC bought the former Longfellow School on Oakdene Avenue for $4.3 million in 2018. The Township had sold the 110-year-old brick building in 2003 to a church, which also used the site as a daycare center.

But after years of fraught proceedings, including being illegally denied a permit by Teaneck, the Zoning Board denied the AUCC’s application on Oct. 1.

In the suit, the AUCC claims the Township and its Board were against the proposal from the start, discriminating against its use as an Islamic center and House of Worship.

The AUCC claims the township requested that AUCC change its name to downplay its Muslim purpose, and then insisted the application go before the zoning board, despite the site’s location in a “Public Zone,” which the suit claims lack restrictions on use, size, and density.

At the core of the AUCC complaint is the argument that none of the requirements placed on the application was asked of the church that operated on the same site and in the same building for over 14 years.

The application did not include any additions to the building the church and school had used, according to AUCC attorney Aymen Aboushi.

In 2019, then-Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin, who was the first Muslim mayor in Bergen County, said the center would offer welcome services for the community. “The fact that an organization wants to come in and provide services for the community, that’s a net benefit for the town,” he said.

 

SEE: Proposed Islamic center sues Teaneck for discrimination in denying application 

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/teaneck/2020/10/09/islamic-center-sues-teaneck-discrimination-denying-application/5939624002/

SEE: AUCC Lawsuit  

https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/45a137df-cb6c-4c6b-8627-6a50f45f28c1/AUCC%20Lawsuit.pdf

 

In a statement, AUCC’s Ray Hassan said:

“We started this project to fulfill a promise to our mother and make our world a better place. Almost immediately we were met by resistance from Teaneck town officials. They started by asking us to change our organization name. It continued with denials for child safety issues like an updated playground, a safety fence, an elevator, and a ramp to accommodate handicapped children. It evolved into fees in excess of $400,000 and unrealistic plan demands from the Board of Adjustments.

“We have constantly been compared to the State Street project that crushed existing Teaneck ordinances. We are not talking about an empty plot of land. We are talking about an existing property that was once a Teaneck public school. A building that later served as a church for almost 40 years. A property that never faced the issues or scrutiny a Muslim organization has constantly faced. In this great country of ours, we are blessed that religious affiliation is not considered a variance. It is our God-given right!”

 

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

“The account offered by AUCC’s founders outlining the difficulty they experienced in establishing their community center is deeply troubling. We take cases of discrimination and prejudices very seriously.

“All Americans have the freedom to establish houses of worship and community centers without unfair impediment. Anything unjustly hindering the development of a community center should be of great concern to the local community and anyone who values our constitutional rights.

“We echo the concerns and requests being made by AUCC’s legal counsel. Our office is advocating for fair and just treatment of AUCC’s pursuit to establish a center that would serve as an asset to Teaneck. The Teaneck Zoning board must work to reach an agreement with AUCC for the sake of bringing something of inherent benefit to the town.”

 

AUCC:  

Al Ummah Community Center, or AUCC, is a Muslim-owned and operated Islamic-based community center dedicated to being a positive influence in the community by developing healthy youth programs; athletics, academics, arts and sciences, and religion. AUCC is also developing programs for seniors and special needs members. They also strive to provide assistance to local families in need with the help of our young volunteers thereby improving the general quality of life for all residents in the Teaneck area.

 

Background on State Street: 

SEE: Apartments approved for Teaneck’s State Street 

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/teaneck/2019/12/06/teaneck-nj-state-street-apartments-approved/3843816002/

“The 68 apartments are more than seven times what is permitted on the 0.8 acre lot. The building will be set back 10 feet from the front of the property line, instead of the required 30 feet and its 73-foot height to the roofline is more than double the maximum permitted height of 35 feet.”

SEE: Another apartment building proposed for Teaneck’s State Street, this one for 147 units 

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/teaneck/2019/08/15/developer-looks-build-147-unit-apartment-building-teaneck-nj/2007050001/

“The proposed building’s height is 173 feet, nearly five times the 35 feet allowed. The percentage of the lot covered by the building would be 97 percent instead of the 25 percent allowed. The development plans call for construction at the front property line instead of the required setback of 2 feet on State Street and 8 feet at The Plaza and Ayers Court. The rear setback in the plans is 5 feet instead of the minimum 20 feet.”

 

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

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END 

CAIR-NJ Thanks State Lawmakers for Joint Resolution Recognizing CAIR-NJ’s Achievements, Contributions, 15th Anniversary   

CAIR-NJ Thanks State Lawmakers for Joint Resolution Recognizing CAIR-NJ’s Achievements, Contributions, 15th Anniversary   

 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 11/9/2021) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today thanked the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly for honoring CAIR-NJ on its 15th anniversary with a joint legislative resolution.

That resolution praised CAIR-NJ’s work, paid tribute to its meritorious record of service and commitment and extended sincere best wishes for its continued success and vigor in the years to come.

The resolution was proposed by Senator Beach, Assemblyman Greenwald, and Assemblywoman Lampitt and was signed by both President of the Senate, Stephen M. Sweeny, and Speaker of the General Assembly, Craig J. Coughlin.

A duly authenticated copy of the resolution was transmitted to CAIR-NJ.

 

The resolution states in part:  

WHEREAS, This auspicious occasion, with the theme, Inspired by Faith, Leading by Service, will recognize the outstanding achievements of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR-NJ, over the past year that ensured justice for the embattled while fostering compassion and empathy throughout our State; and,

WHEREAS, The leaders and members of CAIR-NJ have demonstrated their unwavering devotion to the praiseworthy mission of fostering understanding of Islam, encouraging dialogue, and empowering American-Muslims through coalitions that unite people and celebrate diversity in ideas, voices, and experiences; and,

WHEREAS, Within all spheres, CAIR-NJ has established a model to emulate and set a standard of excellence toward which others might strive…

 

READ THE RESOLUTION:  

https://www.cair.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/CAIRNJResolution-scaled.jpg

 

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

“We’re honored by this surprise resolution. Our team and I thank Senator Sweeny, Assemblyman Coughlin, Senator Beach, Assemblyman Greenwald, Assemblywoman Lampitt, and the entire New Jersey Senate and General Assembly for recognizing our organization and its achievements.   

“For the past fifteen years, CAIR-New Jersey has worked to be a voice for the Muslim community and defend the civil rights of all New Jerseyans. We look forward to continuing our advocacy works for many more years to come, God-willing.”   

 

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

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END

CAIR-New Jersey Invites Edward Durr to Meet with Muslim Community Leaders

CAIR-New Jersey Invites Edward Durr to Meet with Muslim Community Leaders

 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 11/5/2021) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today called on newly-elected New Jersey state senator Edward Durr to meet with Muslim community leaders to discuss his Islamophobic tweet and repudiate hate.

A 2019 post from Durr’s Twitter account stated in part: “Islam is a false religion! Only fools follow muslim [sic] teachings! It is a cult of hate!” Posts from Durr’s Facebook account downplayed the Jan. 6 coup attempt, calling it “not an insurrection … (but) an unauthorized entry by undocumented federal employees!”

SEE: Newly elected GOP state senator’s social media accounts contain xenophobic, anti-Muslim posts

https://www.nj.com/politics/2021/11/newly-elected-gop-state-senators-social-media-accounts-contain-homophobic-anti-muslim-posts.html

SEE: NJ’s newly elected Ed Durr apologizes for social media posts

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

“This wildly incendiary language is especially disturbing coming from someone who will hold high public office.

“Mr. Durr will soon be a state senator in New Jersey, and so, I believe it is in everyone’s best interest to engage him in conversation and not let the matter go unchecked. I am asking Mr. Durr to sit with me and other Muslim community leaders from his district and lend us his ear. Our aim is to explain why his tweet is so troubling, how it perpetuates falsities about Islam, and hatred and violence against Muslims.

“I hope after sincere dialogue Mr. Durr will repudiate this blatant bigotry, disavow the tweet, and sincerely apologize–because it is absolutely necessary that he do so. The judgment of policy-makers clouded by racism and ignorance negatively impacts the lives of all Americans, especially American Muslims who know all too well what that impact can feel like.”

Maksut noted that New Jersey is home to three times as many Muslim adults per capita as the national average, and that New Jersey also has more Muslim elected officials than any other state in the nation.

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

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END

CAIR-NJ Congratulates First Muslim to Win NJ State Legislature Seat, Other Historic Muslim Electoral Victories  

CAIR-NJ Congratulates First Muslim to Win NJ State Legislature Seat, Other Historic Muslim Electoral Victories  

 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 11/3/2021) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today congratulated Shama Haider for becoming the first Muslim to win her election for the state legislature. CAIR-NJ also congratulates other Muslims for breaking barriers in other local races.

Shama Haider ran for election to the New Jersey State legislature in District 37, which covers municipalities like Teaneck and Tenafly.

She is the first Muslim to serve as a New Jersey state legislator.

 

SEE:  Johnson, Haider, Park win in the 37th district 

https://newjerseyglobe.com/legislature/johnson-haider-park-win-in-the-37th-district/

Bergen’s Shama Haider makes history as first Muslim elected to NJ legislature 

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2021/11/03/37th-district-assembly-election-results-shama-haider-first-muslim/6240118001/

 

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

“We congratulate Shama Haider for becoming New Jersey’s first Muslim to be elected as a state legislator. It is inspiring to see this historic electoral victory, one that we hope paves the way for future success for the Muslim community here in New Jersey.”   

“The New Jersey state legislature is nearly 60 percent white men, leaving much more work to be done in terms of representation. We look forward to the year the state legislature more accurately reflects the demographics of New Jersey. 

“This election cycle has seen a few other exciting firsts for the New Jersey Muslim community at the local level. Each win is a testament to the Muslim community’s passion for public service and civic engagement. Our state is moving toward religious inclusion of Muslims, pushing back against the rampant Islamophobia we’ve seen since 9/11, and embracing the richness, and diversity of its population.  

“We hope that the American Muslims elected officials champion policies that reflect the justice-oriented values and principles of our faith and community and continue making history across our state.” 

 

Maksut noted that over 30 Muslims ran for office this election. He said it is too soon to enumerate the total number of re-elected, and newly elected but he did mention the following names:

  • Umar Muhammad, first Muslim to serve as Galloway Councilman 
  • Sami Shaban, first Muslim to serve on Franklin Board of Education 

In March, CAIR, Jetpac and MPower Change released a comprehensive report of all Muslim-identifying candidates who ran for public office in 2020 that found 181 Muslim candidates were on 2020 ballots across 28 states and Washington D.C., with 80 being elected to office.

 

CAIR and Jetpac plan to issue a follow-up directory of elected Muslim officials later this year.

As a nonpartisan tax-exempt organization, CAIR encourages American Muslims to participate in national and state elections. CAIR does not support one candidate or political party over another.

 

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

 

END 

CAIR-NJ Urges Muslims to Participate in Early Voting

CAIR-NJ Urges Muslims to Participate in Early Voting

 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 10/29/2021) –The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today urged members of the New Jersey Muslim community to vote early by mail or in person.

Find the most convenient early voting site in your county and pick a day that works for you between now and October 31st. Earlier this year, historic legislation established in-person early voting in New Jersey. This law makes New Jersey even more voter-friendly and strengthens our democracy by expanding opportunities to exercise your right to vote. This new option allows registered voters to cast their ballot in person, using a voting machine, during a nine-day period prior to Election Day.

 

SEE: In-Person Early Voting in New Jersey is here!

https://www.nj.gov/state/elections/vote-early-voting.shtml

 

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

“The Islamic imperative is to do good, and build a better world. Voting is one effective means through which New Jersey Muslims can do just that. To bring about the positive change we wish to see in the world the Muslim community must unite and work together to ensure we are civically engaged, vote in high numbers, and have our voices heard.

“Thanks to early in-person voting it has never been easier to vote. It’s important we all exercise our right and make sure you, your family and neighbors vote!”

 

Maksut also noted that for the first time ever the Islamic Center of Passaic County is an early voting location and encouraged Passaic County residents to vote at the ICPC.

“We’re excited to have the ICPC masjid be a location for early voting. It brings our Muslim community great pride knowing we can help build a strong and more equitable New Jersey,” said Maksut.

 

See: ICPC Statement

https://www.facebook.com/icpc.nj/photos/pcb.10159715817036948/10159715813541948/

 

 

If you believe your voting rights have been violated, please contact CAIR-NJ at(908) 668-5900or info@nj.cair.com.

NOTE:As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, CAIR-NJ does not endorse or oppose any candidate running for office.

 

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

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END

CAIR New Jersey 15th Annual Banquet a Success, with Lt. Sheila Oliver, and Others 

CAIR New Jersey 15th Annual Banquet a Success, with Lt. Sheila Oliver, and Others 

 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 10/27/2021) –The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today said almost 350 people turned out last Saturday for its 15th Annual Banquet in Newark, with the theme “Inspired by Faith. Leading by Service.”

Banquet speakers included Sheila Oliver, Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey; CAIR National Board Chair Roula Allouch; Shaykh Yasir Fahmy, research adviser at Yaqeen Institute; Abrar Omeish, at-large member of the Fairfax County (Va.) School Board; and Amer Zahr, Palestinian Arab American comedian, lawyer, and professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Banquet honorees included Laila Khan, who successfully petitioned for the Eid holiday to be recognized in Montclair; Palestinian American Community Center (PACC); Zellie Imani of BLM Paterson; and Ahmed Shehab, CAIR national board treasurer, and CAIR-NJ board member.

 

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

“It was an inspirational night! We thank all those who helped make our 15th annual banquet another successful event. Some 350 community members turned out for the banquet, which raised nearly $180,000 to support our ongoing civil rights and advocacy efforts.

“For the past 15 years, our staff, board members, and volunteers have dedicated themselves to fighting racism and bigotry by offering free legal services to victims of harassment and discrimination. CAIR-NJ has advocated for inclusive policies at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure marginalized peoples are respected and welcomed in New Jersey.

“Our banquet is also a celebration of the New Jersey Muslim community, its leadership in civic engagement, social justice work, and many achievements and contributions.

“This year we were honored to have Lt. Sheila Oliver address our audience about her engagement with the Muslim community and the importance of valuing the diversity of our state.”

 

Maksut noted that the CAIR-NJ office has doubled the size of its staff since its last banquet in February of 2020 and is on track to continue growing.
He also noted that New Jersey is home to three times as many Muslim adults per capita as the national average and that New Jersey also has more Muslim elected officials than any other state in the nation. 

 

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

 

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END

CAIR-NJ Calls ‘Appropriate Corrective Measures’ After Teacher Tells Arab Muslim Student ‘We Don’t Negotiate with Terrorists’ 

CAIR-NJ Calls ‘Appropriate Corrective Measures’ After Teacher Tells Arab Muslim Student ‘We Don’t Negotiate with Terrorists’ 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 10/22/2021) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed the Ridgefield, N.J., police investigation and called for the Ridgefield Memorial High School to take “appropriate corrective measures” after a teacher at Ridgefield High School allegedly told an Arab Muslim student, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” when he asked for more time on his homework. The teacher reportedly later approached the student and allegedly said “I didn’t mean it like that.”

The incident reportedly occurred on Wednesday morning during first period at Ridgefield Memorial High School where the student is a senior. The student alleges the entire class including another teacher was witness to the incident.

 

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

“We are very concerned about these allegations and urge the school district to take appropriate corrective measures following a swift and transparent investigation. This type of insensitive language by an authority figure is unacceptable because it perpetuates stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims.”  

Maksut said CAIR-NJ is offering the Ridgefield school district diversity training for its teachers and staff to help combat Islamophobia and bullying.

 

He noted that CAIR-NJ is also dealing with another case involving alleged Islamophobia targeting a Muslim student in that state. 

 

SEE: New claims made against NJ teacher accused of removing Muslim student’s hijab 

https://pix11.com/news/local-news/new-jersey/new-claims-made-against-nj-teacher-accused-of-removing-muslim-students-hijab/

 

CAIR released the document as institutions across the country mark today’s beginning of National Bullying Prevention Month.  

The document provides informative resources that school districts can use to ensure teachers and administrators are equipped with the necessary tools to address Islamophobia in the classroom. The document includes toolkits, reports, articles, and informational videos. CAIR released the document  

 

READ CAIR’S RESOURCE DOCUMENT: 

https://www.cair.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/antibullyingresources.pdf

 

Research has demonstrated that Muslims face bullying at twice the rate of the national average. Students of color and other backgrounds are also targets of identity-based bullying.

Many Muslim children report that they do not feel safe approaching their teachers or school leaders about bullying, which is a problem in many school districts across the nation. 

CAIR also 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.

 

SEE: An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices 

https://www.cair.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/An-Educators-Guide-to-Islamic-Religious-Practices.pdf

 

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

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.           

END 

CAIR-NJ Applauds Governor Murphy’s Welcoming Afghan Refugees, Stands Ready to Assist with Resettlement    

CAIR-NJ Applauds Governor Murphy’s Welcoming Afghan Refugees, Stands Ready to Assist with Resettlement    

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 8/24/2021) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today applauded Governor Phil Murphy for his letter to President Biden welcoming Afghan refugees into the State of New Jersey. The CAIR-NJ office also offered assistance to the Governor’s office and any organized resettlement and relief effort for Afghan refugees entering New Jersey.

 

SEE: Letter from Governor Phil Murphy  

https://twitter.com/govmurphy/status/1429462426240626693?s=21

Tweet from Governor Phil Murphy

https://twitter.com/govmurphy/status/1429818465221816326?s=21

 

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

“We applaud Governor Murphy’s statements welcoming Afghan refugees into New Jersey. It is especially honorable that the Governor would take such a stance when far too many political leaders across the nation are stoking xenophobia and Islamophobia at the thought of more Muslims entering the United States. Elected officials who stand firm against racism and ​fear-mongering help keep everyone safe, especially vulnerable refugees and diaspora communities.  

“The people of Afghanistan would not be fleeing their homes today if it were not for decades of shameful US intervention. Therefore, it is our government’s responsibility to provide Afghans with safe refuge. If we care about human rights, we should welcome any Afghan wishing to immigrate to America.  

“Learning from our history is the only way to move forward. We hope to join Governor Murphy in welcoming Afghan refugees with open arms and ensuring their safety in New Jersey. Resettlement will not be easy. Our CAIR New Jersey office and the New Jersey Muslim community stand ready to offer their support to anyone wishing to make this state their new home.”

 

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

END 

CAIR-NJ, CJPD Applaud NJ DOE Commissioner’s Decision Upholding School Ethics Commission Penalty for Piscataway BOE Member Over Islamophobic Flyer 

CAIR-NJ, CJPD Applaud NJ DOE Commissioner’s Decision Upholding School Ethics Commission Penalty for Piscataway BOE Member Over Islamophobic Flyer 

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 8/24/2021) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today applauded a decision by Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan to uphold the School Ethics Commission’s penalty of censure for Piscataway BOE Member Nitang Patel over his Islamophobic flyer.

That case was filed with the support of CAIR-NJ and Central Jersey Progressive Democrats (CJPD).

 

SEE: Civil Rights Advocates, Community Leaders Applaud NJ DOE Commissioner’s Decision Upholding School Ethics Commission Penalty for Piscataway BOE Member Over Islamophobic Flyer Circulated by Local Democrats 

https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/civil-rights-advocates-community-leaders-applaud-nj-doe-commissioners-decision-upholding-school-ethics-commission-penalty-piscataway-boe-member-islamophobic-flyer-circula/

 

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

“We welcome the Acting Commissioner’s decision to censure Mr. Patel. Inflammatory rhetoric stoking anti-Muslim sentiment for political gain should never serve as the base of a political campaign. Vilifying Muslims in the political arena is unfortunately an all-too-common tactic that should never be tolerated.” 

 

CAIR-NJ Civil Rights Attorney Nina Rossi said:

“Censure is the appropriate penalty not only because Patel’s action in signing the Islamophobic flyer as a school board member without a disclaimer was egregious and intentional, but because the Acting Commissioner’s decision sends a clear message to school board members that if they fail to adhere to the code of ethics there will be serious consequences.” 

 

In a statement on the decision, Dr. Nazir said: 

“I applaud the decision by the Acting Commissioner and the NJ School Ethics Commission. This is a win for responsibility, fairness and, most of all, for our community. It is a loss for those who spread hate and fear. I am very thankful for the support and help of my diverse community who stood with me during this hard time and spoke out against this Islamophobic flyer and a divisive, hateful campaign to damage our unity. Members of our Township may be different in color, faith, race, ethnicity, or national origin, but most of us are united as one against all forms of hate. 

 

“I am grateful for this decision, as it sets an example and a standard for the rest of the culprits who promoted and funded this divisiveness.  They have still not apologized to me or been held responsible in any way. Flyer funder State Sen. Bob Smith issued a general statement, but never apologized to me. There’s been complete silence by the flyer’s signatories Council President Kapil Shah and Zoning Board member Kalpesh Patel, along with flyer’s distributors Paulette Crabiel Wahler and Dennis Espinosa. They were all directly involved and should apologize for their shameful behavior and be reprimanded by their colleagues. 

 

“Holding all of these people accountable is part of the healing process for our community.  We cannot have the unity we need and deserve until they take responsibility for their actions. I hope the Township Council, Zoning Board and the Democratic Organizations involved will penalize these individuals, like the School Ethics Commission has done to Nitang Patel, so all our neighbors know whether they support this hate or not. We cannot sweep their participation under the rug. We need to repair all of the harm done by this flyer and we will not rest until justice is secured.” 

 

In a statement, Yael Bromberg, Esq. of Bromberg Law LLC said:

“This decision sends a message to youth and community members that the state will not permit local government to unethically traffic in ethnic divisions and stereotypes, at least with regard to school board members.”

 

In a statement, Staci Berger, CJPD President said:

“This flyer was a blatant and awful attempt by the Smith-Wahler political machine to divide our community based on ethnicity and religion, and has no place in our diverse Township.  It is just one example of what these so-called “democrats” will do to stay in power. Whether it’s their opposition to residents’ call to secure open government by broadcasting public meetings, launching personal attacks on people who oppose building warehouses next to elementary schools or trafficking in Islamophobic messages, it is clear that they do not care about ethics, decency or democracy.”

 

BACKGROUND: 

Patel was on the slate of candidates elected in 2018 who ran under the slogan Better, Safer Schools (“BSS”). He is not seeking re-election when his term ends later this year, and neither are any of his running mates, including the current BOE President Shelia Hobson. Instead, continuing a pattern of underhanded political behavior, allies of the BSS slate have chosen to run under the slogan “Putting Students First” in an obvious attempt to cause voter confusion by appropriating the slogan of the “Putting Kids First” slate, which successfully ran against the BSS slate in 2020, and is running a slate of candidates again in 2021.

The case was brought on behalf of Dr. Nazir by Yael Bromberg, Esq. of Bromberg Law LLC and Nina Rossi, Esq. of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of NJ (CAIR-NJ) with support from CJPD. The decision may be appealed to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court within 45 days.

In June 2019, Patel was one of three signatories on a flyer that was paid for by state Senator Bob Smith and distributed by Paulette Crabiel Wahler (wife of Piscataway Mayor Wahler) and her running mate Dennis Espinosa, who were then candidates for County Committee Member running with the support of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization (MCDO).

The flyer was translated into Gujarati and distributed to Indian-American households of the Hindu faith. The flyer failed to include required disclaimers and trafficked in dog-whistle politics to exploit a foreign conflict and divide ethnic groups in Piscataway, NJ. Although he was not running for office, the flyer named Dr. Atif Nazir, an outspoken and admired Muslim former BOE member, and called the opposing slate “a radical group under the leadership of Atif Nazir that wants to take over our township government. We cannot let that happen.”

Other signatories on the flyer were Zoning Board member Kalpesh Patel and Council President Kapil Shah, who exhorted members of the Indian-American community to support the MCDO candidates to prevent their local government from being taken over by a “radical group” at the helm of a Muslim leader.

Following a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Ascione, and an appeal by Dr. Nazir from the ALJ’s ruling, the SEC and Commissioner agreed that Patel violated three sections of the School Ethics Act: NJSA 18A:12-24.1(e), (f) and (g). These statutory safeguards prevent school board members from taking action that has the potential of compromising the school board; surrendering independent judgment to partisan political groups; and providing inaccurate information.

Patel argued that a lesser sanction of reprimand was appropriate for the first-time offense. However, Acting Commissioner Allen-McMillan denied his appeal, finding that he “purposefully referenced his position on the Board to support his political agenda.” The Commissioner found his actions “egregious” and that “a censure is the appropriate penalty for respondent’s failure to include a disclaimer while referencing his position on the Board in a targeted political mailing.”

 

SEE SEC DECISION:  Atif Nazir v. Nitang Patel, Piscataway Township Board of Education, Middlesex County, C43-19, 5/25/2021.

https://www.nj.gov/education/legal/commissioner/2021/164-21SEC.pdf

 

Anti-Muslim memes have no place in our politics | Editorial   

https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/05/anti-muslim-memes-have-no-place-in-our-politics-editorial.html

 

Over 300 Elected Officials, Organizational Leaders and NJ Residents Condemn Sen. Bob Smith’s and Piscataway Democrats’ Anti-Muslim Flyer and Call for a Public Apology

https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/300-elected-officials-organizational-leaders-nj-residents-condemn-sen-bob-smiths-piscataway-democrats-anti-muslim-flyer-call-public-apology/

 

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

 

CJPD is a volunteer, grassroots organization formed after the election of Donald Trump, comprised of candidates and supporters mobilizing for social, racial, economic and political justice. The two organizations are planning a joint event in the fall to celebrate Piscataway’s diversity and explore the impact of this decision for its future.

END 

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