MEDIA ADVISORY

CAIR-NJ to Attend Highland Park Police Sergeant’s Termination Hearing, Sergeant Alleges Ethnic and Religious Discrimination

(NEWARK, NJ, 11/15/2023) — On Thursday, November 16 at 10 a.m.,  the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), a chapter of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, will attend the termination hearing of Highland Park’s Sergeant Mohab Hannout.

SEE: Highland Park officer suspended without pay, claims discrimination

The sergeant, who is allegedly facing ethnic and religious harassment and discrimination within the police department according to court documents, was suspended without pay more than one year ago.

The Highland Park Police Department has fostered a “culture of explicit and implicit bias against Black and brown officers by creating a two-tiered disciplinary system: one for whites and one for ‘others,’” court documents read.

WHEN: Thursday, November 16, 2023, at 10 a.m.    

WHERE: Highland Park Municipal Building, 221 S. 5th Ave, Highland Park, NJ 08904 

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, dsayedahmed@cair.com, W: 908-668-5900 ext. 103, C: 551-221-5592       

Court documents detail incidents of alleged discrimination, harassment, and bullying that Hannout has endured during his 17-year tenure at the Highland Park Police Department. In one instance, Hannout’s ethnic background was allegedly evoked by a high-ranking official while responding to a call. The same official would allegedly call Hannout a “terrorist.”    

Separately, another high-ranking official allegedly asked if Hannout’s ethnic group was “stupid” in response to another call.   

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed said:   

“We are deeply disturbed by the allegations that Sergeant Mohab has made against the Highland Park Police Department, but his case seems to be just the tip of the iceberg.    

“The police department is overwhelmingly white, despite at least 38 percent of the borough population being non-white. Over the last three years, five Black officers have left the department. This is alarming.   

“The Borough has taken positive steps toward eliminating racism within its jurisdiction, but there still seems to be a long way to go within the police department especially.   

“We are optimistic that Mayor Elsie Foster will investigate Hannout’s credible claims in good faith and work to ensure that the apparent explicit and implicit biases within the Highland Park Police Department do not go unchecked.”    

Hannout’s hearing was originally scheduled for June 14, 2023, then postponed to September 8, 2023, and then postponed to November 16, 2023. The Sergeant has been on unpaid leave since August 15, 2022.

Hannout has previously filed suit against the Highland Park Police Department for discrimination. The department settled in 2017.  

 

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

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CONTACT:  CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, dsayedahmed@cair.com, W: 908-668-5900 ext. 103, C: 551-221-5592