CAIR-NJ Calls for Hate Crime Probe of Vandalism of Word ‘Allah’ on Paterson School Sign

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 04/08/2023) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called for a hate crime investigation into vandalism targeting the Dr. Hani Awadallah public school in Paterson.   

The word “Allah” in Dr. Hani Awadallah’s name on the sign in front of the school was defaced with an unknown dark substance. 

[NOTE: “Allah” is the Arabic word for “God.”] 

SEE: Vandalized School Sign

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

“While the circumstances surrounding the incident remain unknown, the smearing of the word ‘Allah’ in Dr. Awadallah’s name is apparently intentional, with the remainder of the sign left untouched, making an immediate hate crime investigation into this incident necessary.     

“This incident is one of many throughout New Jersey. In 2022, we’ve recorded the highest number of complaints of anti-Muslim prejudices, at 152. Over the years, our records have shown that complaints increase around and during Ramadan, in part because Muslims are more visible and take up more space — physically and metaphorically.     

“This upward trend of complaints of anti-Muslim incidents is wholly unacceptable. Local interfaith leaders and community members in Paterson have worked hard to make the city welcoming and inclusive of people of all faiths, and we must come together to show that behaviors like this are not only unwelcome but condemnable. We call on elected officials, local leaders and allies of the Muslim community to stand firmly against this apparently bias-motivated incident and make clear that this sort of bigotry has no home here and will never succeed.”    

Maksut noted that Paterson is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the state of New Jersey and that New Jersey has more Muslims per capita than any other state in the nation.      

He urged the local Muslim community and Islamic institutions nationwide to take extra security precautions by using advice offered in CAIR’s booklet, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety.

Last 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.     


CONTACT:CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed,, 551-221-5592