CAIR-NJ Calls State Senate Committee to Oppose Bills Crafted to Gut Free Speech 

CAIR-NJ Calls State Senate Committee to Oppose Bills Crafted to Gut Free Speech

(Newark, NJ, 06/14/2024) —  The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today once again called on the New Jersey Senate to oppose Senate Bill 1292 and Senate Bill 2937, both of which are designed to redefine antisemitism using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition.

A State Senate committee plans to conduct a remote meeting via Zoom on Monday during which it will take oral testimony on both bills. CAIR-NJ is urging New Jerseyans to engage with their Legislature and oppose both the bills.

WHEN: Monday, June 17, at 9 a.m.

WHERE: Registration online is required to attend meeting via Zoom

HOW: Protect free speech by opposing the bills when registering online

In an open letter addressed to the New Jersey Senate, CAIR-NJ wrote, “While we appreciate and support efforts to combat hate and discrimination, these bills carry consequences that would suppress legitimate advocacy and free speech.”

SEE: Oppose Bill S1292 and S2937 to Protect Free Speech 

The proposed measures attack freedom of speech in New Jersey. The bills risk conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, which is dangerous to constructive discourse on this crucial, nuanced topic that affects millions of people. This would ultimately result in the silencing of Palestinians and those who advocate for them by potentially painting them as anti-Semites when they speak up against injustices.

CAIR-NJ unequivocally rejects and condemns the attempted weaponization of anti-Semitism in what appears to be an intentional effort to decenter what’s really important: the freedom of speech to advocate for the liberation of Palestine and Palestinians.

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

“If these bills pass, they will effectively undermine free speech by discouraging open dialogue at a divisive time when we should be seeking mutual understanding and unity.

“Our elected officials in the New Jersey Senate should not vote for a measure that would put our Muslim and Palestinian communities in harm’s way when anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry is already on the rise. Americans should be focused on protecting their right to the First Amendment, not prioritizing a foreign entity.”

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 Interim Communications Manager Aya Elamroussi, aelamroussi@cair.com, 551-208-5482

East Brunswick High School

CAIR-NJ Demands ‘Transparent and Fair’ Probe of East Brunswick High School Yearbook Photo Incident

CAIR-NJ Demands ‘Transparent and Fair’ Probe of East Brunswick High School Yearbook Photo Incident

(NEWARK, N.J. (6/6/2024) – The New Jersey office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today demanded a transparent and fair investigation into an incident at East Brunswick High School in which a yearbook photo of apparently Muslim students was used to show members of a Jewish school club.

A photo of the yearbook page has gone viral online, triggering anti-Muslim bigotry targeting the students pictured. CAIR-NJ has seen hateful comments on social media, including some that called the students terrorists and that they should be deported.

East Brunswick Superintendent Dr. Victor Valeski apologized to the Muslim parents and students: “As I mentioned impacts to our Jewish students and families earlier today, I want to offer sincere apologies to our Muslim students and families, as well.  I am aware that the picture placed in the yearbook has caused pain for our Muslim students and for that I am deeply sorry.”

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Aya Elamroussi said:

“It is crucial that school officials ensure their investigation is transparent, fair and thorough so those responsible are held accountable. This incident has triggered heinous backlash against the Muslim students pictured whom CAIR-NJ believes had no knowledge of their photo being misused.

“The hateful comments attacking Muslim high school students are deplorable. We call on East Brunswick’s mayor and public schools superintendent to offer support to their Muslim student community and be leaders for the entire township.” 

East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen one-sided statement posted June 4 on his Facebook account does not mention nor address the distressful impact this has had on Muslim community members who are equally a part of his constituency.”

Washington, D.C., based CAIR and the American Muslim community stand in solidarity with all those challenging antisemitism, systemic anti-Black racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, white supremacy, and all other forms of bigotry.

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 Aya Elamroussi, 551-208-5482, aelamroussi@cair.com 

CAIR-NJ Applauds American Muslim Participation in NJ Primaries, Notes 40,000+ Votes for Ceasefire in Palestine

CAIR-NJ Applauds American Muslim Participation in NJ Primaries, Notes 40,000+ Votes for Ceasefire in Palestine

NEWARK, N.J. (6/5/2024) The New Jersey office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) applauds the thousands of American Muslim voters who participated in the state’s primary election on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

As of Wednesday, 90% of the votes have been counted. So far, the results show the uncommitted choice on the ballot received more than 40,000 votes.
CAIR-NJ worked to galvanize Muslim Americans through voter outreach efforts to increase the community’s civic engagement throughout the state of New Jersey.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Advocacy Coordinator Mousa Naji said:

“Voting is an essential part of our democracy. It is necessary for citizens to exercise their right to vote as a means of expression and to shape the world to be a better place.

“More than 40,000 New Jerseyans took the opportunity to vote uncommitted, making it clear the genocide in Palestine must end. Collectively, they expressed their demand for a ceasefire and for the US to stop sending weapons that have been fueling Israel’s bombardment of Palestine.”

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut also welcomed the voter turn-out Tuesday, saying it was a crucial part of CAIR-NJ’s mission to get as many Muslim Americans to the polls as possible.

“New Jersey’s Muslim community cares deeply about Palestine. Many have family and friends impacted by Israel’s war on Gaza. We expect that it will continue to be an important issue for voters as November approaches,” Maksut said.

“CAIR-NJ will continue to educate the public about the electoral process, key policy issues, and encourage civic participation for larger future turn outs. It’s crucial to continue this momentum into the general election to ensure our voices are heard.”

CAIR-NJ is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization and does not participate in political candidate endorsements. However, the chapter has urged eligible voters to hit the polls to make their voices heard through choosing a candidate that best aligns with their values and views.

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CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Senior Communications Associate Aya Elamroussi, 551-208-5482, aelamroussi@cair.com

CAIR-NJ Encourages Muslim Community to Vote Early for Primary Election

CAIR-NJ Encourages Muslim Community to Vote Early for Primary Election

(NEWARK, NJ, 5/31/2024) The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) is urging Muslims across the state to vote in the Primary Election on or before June 4, 2024.

Registered voters have the option to participate in the election process today and throughout the weekend as well as on Election Day on Tuesday.

In-person early voting: May 29 – June 2
Primary Election Day: June 4
Election Day Poll Hours: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.

SEE: A list of poll locations near you

With early voting already underway, New Jersey voters may cast their ballots for several key seats at the federal, state and local levels. In addition to the presidential election, the US Senate, US House of Representatives, State Senate as well as local races in some cities and counties are on the ballot.

“It is crucial for members of our Muslim community to practice their civic duty in this Primary Election as we witness the abhorrent and deadly violence unfolding in Gaza and across Palestine,” CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said. “Voting is just one tool we can use to mark our presence in the political arena.”

New Jersey operates a closed primary system, meaning voters must be affiliated with a political party to be eligible to participate in that party’s primary election. People who are not affiliated with either of the two major parties may still vote in down ballot nonpartisan races such as local boards of education.

“Our voices matter now more than ever as hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. have skyrocketed in recent months,” said CAIR-NJ Senior Communications Associate Aya Elamroussi. “By making our votes count in this election, we can choose candidates whose policies advance human rights here in the Garden State and abroad.”

CAIR-NJ is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that does not participate in political candidate endorsements. However, the chapter is urging eligible voters to hit the polls to make their voices heard through choosing a candidate that best aligns with their values and views.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.

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CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Senior Communications Associate Aya Elamroussi, 908-668-5900 ext. 103, aelamroussi@cair.com

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Safe Passage of NJ Medical Professionals, Urges the Biden Administration to end Gaza Siege  

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Safe Passage of NJ Medical Professionals, Urges the Biden Administration to end Gaza Siege

(NEWARK, NJ, 5/22/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed the safe passage of American doctors, including two medical professionals from New Jersey who were volunteering at the European Hospital in Gaza.

The two New Jersey medical professionals, Dr. Adam Hamawy and Dr. Ghada Abukwaik, along with other American doctors, were unable to return home due to border closures enforced by Israeli authorities. CAIR-NJ welcomes the safe passage and return of these sixteen NJ medical professionals who have been providing critical medical aid in Gaza in partnership with the World Health Organization. CAIR-NJ thanks the officials who helped facilitate the doctors’ safe exit of Gaza.

IMPORTANT: CAIR-NJ urges Congress to demand safe passage for a replacement team. Congress must help facilitate a seamless transition of medical professionals to continue offering critical medical aid in Gaza to children and civilians.

CAIR-NJ urges the Biden Administration to call for an end to Israel’s siege of Gaza, which has resulted in almost 35,000 dead and countless children and civilians injured.

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

“We welcome the safe passage of New Jersey medical professionals in Gaza who were trapped by border closures enforced by Israeli authorities. Dr. Adam Hamawy and Dr. Ghada Abukwaik left their homes to travel to Gaza and provide critical medical aid to displaced and injured Palestinians. While we rejoice at the news of their safe return from Gaza, it is disheartening that there was so much uncertainty, and it took this long.”

“Israel’s intentional blocking of the replacement of medical professionals is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. This is unacceptable. There must be a seamless transition of future medical missions to sustain the critical humanitarian work.”

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 Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, sMaksut@cair.com, 908-267-3119

CAIR-NJ Calls on Princeton University to Meet with Students, Commends Student Hunger Strikers  

CAIR-NJ Calls on Princeton University to Meet with Students, Commends Student Hunger Strikers

(NEWARK,NJ, 5/16/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today called on Princeton University administration to meet with students to discuss their demands.

SEE: Princeton Students Response to President Eisgruber

CAIR-NJ also condemns Princeton University administration’s treatment of the peaceful encampments and student protests as threatening and dangerous. The University administration’s vilification of students who take part in these protests is harmful and endangers students. CAIR-NJ urges Princeton University administration to meet student demands of divestment, statements of support for a ceasefire, and amnesty for student protesters.

CAIR-NJ also commends student hunger strikers who ended their strike yesterday, after 12 days of going without food to protest Princeton University’s complicity in what they view as supporting a country committing genocide. Their dedication to their cause has impacted their health, resulting in rapid weight loss and exhaustion, amongst others.

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

“We call on the Princeton University administration to reconsider their treatment of the peaceful protests and meet with students. The University must do better to protect their students as they exercise their right to protest and rally for Palestine.”

“Students at Princeton University have shown their resilience through their 12-day long hunger strike, which has resulted in extreme weight loss and other significant implications to their health. Their determination to exercise their rights and stand up for justice is commendable.”

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 Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, sMaksut@cair.com, 908-267-3119

CAIR-NJ Condemns Jackson Township Mayor’s Hostile Treatment of Planned Pro-Palestinian Peaceful Protest

CAIR-NJ Condemns Jackson Township Mayor’s Hostile Treatment of Planned Pro-Palestinian Peaceful Protest

The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today condemned Mayor of Jackson Township Michael Reina’s hostile reaction to a planned pro-Palestinian peaceful protest.

Mayor Reina’s statement on the protest is as follows:

“We have several agencies looking into the origin of this online message. I can assure everyone that we did not authorize any parade or gathering, nor was a permit issued. At this time, we are not aware who the creator(s) are, but that will not stop us from being vigilant.”

Furthermore, a Jackson Township counter terrorism officer visited a resident’s home on May 14 to tell them that they will need a permit for the rally scheduled for Sunday, May 19.

CAIR-NJ condemns Jackson Township and its mayor’s hostile treatment towards individuals wanting to exercise their first amendment rights. Their treatment of protestors as threatening and dangerous is harmful and puts them at risk. By telling the community to remain vigilant in the face of peaceful assembly creates the harmful rhetoric that pro-Palestinian protestors are dangerous, violent and even implicitly criminal. The mayor calling upon agencies and sending a police officer, specifically one designated for counter-terrorism to the home of a presumed organizer is superfluous.

CAIR-NJ urges Jackson Township to aid in providing a safe space for individuals wanting to exercise their right to peacefully protest for any reason.

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

“We condemn Jackson Township’s hostile stance toward free speech and assembly. The mayor’s hostile reaction to a peaceful pro-Palestine rally by alerting “several agencies” and dispatching the Counter-Terrorism officer demonstrates a potential anti-Muslim or anti-Palestinian bias.”

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 Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, sMaksut@cair.com, 908-267-3119

CAIR-NJ Condemns South Brunswick Board of Education President’s Comments About Student Walkout at a Graduation Ceremony 

CAIR-NJ Condemns South Brunswick Board of Education President’s Comments About Student Walkout at a Graduation Ceremony 

(NEWARK, NJ, 5/15/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today condemned South Brunswick Board of Education President Lisa Grieco Rodgers’ claim that students walking out in support of Palestine at a college graduation ceremony was antisemitic and that their diplomas should be revoked.  

SEE: Lisa Grieco Rodgers Social Media Comment 

SEE: Lisa Grieco Rodgers Social Media Comment Archived 

CAIR-NJ condemns these comments made by the School Board President as they put students who may exercise their right to protest in harm’s way. South Brunswick is home to one of New Jersey’s largest mosques and a vibrant Muslim community. Leaders in educational spaces have a responsibility to create a safe space for students who want to speak up for what they believe in. School Board Presidents have a legal responsibility for the well-being of children and alone can speak on behalf of the Board and school district. Grieco Rodgers’ public comments may create a hostile environment for students in the South Brunswick school district who want to use their voice. 

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

The comments made by Lisa Grieco Rodgers against the student walkout in support of Palestine at Duke University harms student protestors who simply want to exercise their right to free speech. These comments leave students vulnerable to retaliation from their universities or employers, painting them as antisemitic when in fact, students did not walk out simply because Jerry Seinfeld is Jewish.” 

“Those in positions of power, especially in educational spaces, must ensure that their Muslim and Palestinian students do not feel unsafe when speaking up for what they believe in. Similarly, any student of any faith or background who speaks up for Palestine should feel safe to do so.” 

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 Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, sMaksut@cair.com, 908-668-5900 ext. 101, 908-267-3119 

CAIR-NJ Urges Intervention of Biden Administration and New Jersey Members of Congress to Ensure the Safe Return of NJ Medical Professionals Stranded in Gaza 

CAIR-NJ Urges Intervention of Biden Administration and New Jersey Members of Congress to Ensure the Safe Return of NJ Medical Professionals Stranded in Gaza

 

(NEWARK, NJ, 5/15/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today urged Biden Administration and New Jersey Members of Congress to intervene on behalf of New Jersey’s medical professionals stranded at the European Hospital in Gaza. 

Video: CAIR Calls on Biden to Secure Evacuation of U.S. Doctors Trapped in Rafah, End Assault on Rafah

Approximately 20 American medical professionals, including Dr. Ghada Abukwaik, a New Jersey pharmacist, and Dr. Adam Hamawy from New Jersey, a distinguished U.S. Army veteran, who have been providing critical medical aid in Gaza in partnership with the World Health Organization. They are unable to return home due to border closures enforced by Israeli authorities.

CAIR-NJ urges for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to facilitate their safe evacuation. It is imperative that the U.S. government reaffirms its commitment to protecting its citizens abroad, particularly those serving humanitarian missions.

CAIR-NJ also urges the importance of maintaining uninterrupted medical assistance to the people of Rafah. The enforced border closures have not only hindered the return of medical professionals but have also obstructed the entry of replacement doctors waiting at the border. The health and well-being of the people in Rafah cannot be any further compromised.

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

“There is an urgent need for the evacuation of NJ medical professionals from the European Hospital in Gaza. We urge the Biden administration and New Jersey members of Congress to intervene on behalf of these humanitarian workers to ensure their safe passage back home – including our New Jersey citizens.” 

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 Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, sMaksut@cair.com, 908-668-5900 ext. 101, 908-267-3119

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Teaneck Arrest of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Pro-Palestinian Protester with a Knife

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Teaneck Arrest of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Pro-Palestinian Protester with a Knife

(NEWARK, NJ, 5/08/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed the arrest of a man who allegedly hurled racially charged epitaphs and brandished a knife at a woman who was participating in a motor vehicle procession in support of Palestine on Teaneck Road.

Ebrahim Yehounatan, 71, who was arrested by police on Friday, May 3, has been charged with second-degree bias intimidation for his unprovoked threats and harassment. He also faces charges of possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes and harassment.

SEE: NY man charged for incident Teaneck NJ pro-Palestine protest (northjersey.com)

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

“We welcome and are relieved by the arrest of the alleged perpetrator for his disturbing act of harassment and intimidation towards an individual in Teaneck, New Jersey. 

“Threats of violence should never be tolerated. We must always take firm action against those who attempt to harm others. 

“Peaceful protestors must be protected by local law enforcement. More needs to be done to keep them safe from instigators. 

“We are noticing a trend–anti-Palestinian racists instigating and causing direct harm to pro-Palestinian protests. Manipulative and hateful rhetoric coming from our elected officials twisting the narrative has led to this uptick in violent threats and attacks. This is wildly unacceptable. Elected officials in New Jersey must be more mindful. Their demonization of protests has caused negative reverberations, putting peaceful people in direct harm’s way – people who want nothing but an end to genocide.” 

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 Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, sMaksut@cair.com, 908-668-5900 ext. 101, 908-267-3119