CAIR-NJ Condemns Graffiti Defacing Highland Park Mural of Muslim Woman, Welcomes Swift Police Investigation   

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 4/30/22) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today condemned graffiti defacing a new mural in Highland Park, NJ depicting a Muslim woman wearing an Islamic head scarf, or hijab.

Authorities in Middlesex County are investigating two incidents of graffiti of the new mural located in downtown Highland Park. According to a photo posted to Facebook by the Highland Park Police Department, the defaced portion of the mural depicts a woman wearing the religious head covering.

SEE: Graffiti on New Mural In Middlesex Co. Under Investigation


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

“It is not enough for local leaders to condemn anti-Muslim hatred publicly on social media. The message must be brought back to their personal circles and intimate gatherings, to those nearest to them, that anti-Muslim hatred is not tolerated here or anywhere. We must make those who harbor anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, xenophobia, and other forms of bigotry feel uncomfortable and unwelcomed in our presence. Hate must be condemned publicly and privately.   

“We thank the Highland Police department for their swift action, and hope they are able to find those responsible for this vandalism.

“Local interfaith leadership and community members in Highland Park have worked hard to make their town welcoming and inclusive of people of all faiths. The vandals wish to erode the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood built among the diverse local communities through New Jersey, but they will not succeed. We will not let them. Together, our local communities will condemn and overcome this display of ignorance and hate for the sake of a better world.” 

Maksut noted that CAIR recently issued a civil rights report showing the highest-ever number of reported cases.


SEE: Complaints of Anti-Muslim Incidents, Bias on the Rise in New Jersey

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says in a new report it received its highest ever number of civil rights complaints in 2021, including 104 complaints of incidents against Muslims in New Jersey.

“This is an alarming sign that Islamophobia is persistent and systemic in society and government policy,” said Nihad Awad, CAIR National’s Executive Director.  “While we recognize that we’ve made progress as a society in terms of addressing social injustices, our report shows that Islamophobia continues to pose the biggest threat American Muslims are facing.”

“This points toward an ever still rising trend of Islamophobia, or alternatively, CAIR-NJ still reaching the capacity to address the greater, true amount of Islamophobia,” CAIR-New Jersey said in its report. Additionally, CAIR-New Jersey noted that the data does not comprise all incidents of Islamophobia happening in the Garden State, “but reflects a good sample data of the New Jersey population.”

Of New Jersey’s 104 reports, 41 cases, or 39.4%, involved discrimination; 22 cases, or 21.2%, involved law enforcement; and 14 cases, or 13.5%, involved hate and bias, CAIR-New Jersey said.


CAIR-NJ Report:

CAIR National Report:


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