CAIR-NJ Condemns Bias Attack at Paterson Mosque, Welcomes Prosecutor’s Charges
(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 3/1/2022) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today condemned an alleged assault on a Paterson mosque muezzin(the one who calls the prayer) by a Paterson resident.
CAIR New Jersey also welcomed the Passaic County Prosecutor’s charges against the alleged attacker.
Edward Wright, who was arrested Feb. 22, allegedly entered the mosque on Preakness Avenue on Dec. 23 and shoved and struck a prayer leader while yelling in a threatening manner, according to Sheriff Richard Berdnik.
The suspect had been railing against the call to prayer (adhan) at Masjid Abu Bakr, which is conducted on a loudspeaker. He allegedly stated, “This needs to stop,” “You guys need to go somewhere else” and “I don’t want to hear that [expletive] every day,” Berdnik said.
Wright, 57, allegedly pushed the man from the back, slapped a microphone from his hand and struck him in the shoulder, Berdnik said. The victim in the alleged assault was a muezzin, an assistant to the imam who issues the call to prayer, said Burhan Uddin, a mosque board member.
He was charged with simple assault and bias intimidation and released pending a court date. The matter was referred to the Bias Crime Unit at the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Berdnik said.
VIDEO: CAIR-NJ: Man accused of bias attack at Paterson mosque during call to prayer
In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:
“This incident is concerning for the local Muslim community that frequents the mosque. Having a stranger enter the mosque with the alleged intention to inflict physical harm is unsettling at the very least. The Islamophobia and racism against Muslims that continues to negatively impact our nation will not deter American Muslims from practicing their faith. We are an unapologetic community that will not be intimidated.
“The incident is an assault on our freedoms and rights as Americans before it is an assault on our faith community. New Jersey law allows for all houses of worship, regardless of faith, to publicly issue their call to prayer.
“Be it a church bell, the Muslim adhan, or other religious sounds, all houses of worship and New Jerseyans are granted equal opportunity in this regard, and to practice their faith freely under the law. No racist attacker will take this away from us.”
“I live only a few minutes from Abu Bakr Masjid. I often see elderly Muslims in traditional clothing walking the area. They feel safe, but alleged racist attacks like this erode that feeling, causing many to second guess their daily walks to and from the mosque. It’s an unfortunate reality we plan to address in the locale.”
He said CAIR is urging houses of worship to take extra security precautions using its “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety” booklet. The advice in CAIR’s security publication is applicable to religious institutions of all faiths.
The booklet may be viewed at: https://www.cair.com/mosque-and-community-safety/
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.