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.

END 

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.

END 

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

CAIR-NJ Condemns Eastern Camden County Regional School District Decision to Cancel Student Walkout for Palestine

CAIR-NJ Condemns Eastern Camden County Regional School District Decision to Cancel Student Walkout for Palestine     

(Newark, NJ, 05/07/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization condemned Eastern Regional High School administration’s decision to cancel a student walkout that was pre-approved for April 26th to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

SEE: Controversial “Free Palestine” walkout canceled at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees)

On April 24th, Eastern Regional High School administration sent out an email to students and parents to notify them that the pre-approved student walkout had been cancelled. Student organizers are expected to work together to have a joint walkout on May 20th despite the school discriminately allowing one student group to have a walkout back on October 13th and cancelling the other group’s walkout last month.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksutsaid: 

“The school is clearly treating the Muslim and Palestinian students unfairly because of their stance on Palestine. It is a breach of the very principles of free speech and the right to assemble—principles that were respected for students who organized a pro-Israel walkout in October. Equality is a non-negotiable and bare minimum in our educational institutions.” 

“Our educational institutions should encourage critical thinking, civic engagement, and the respectful exchange of ideas. Cancelling a peaceful walkout sends a message that dissenting voices are not welcome—a message that contradicts the very essence of democratic values.”

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

“We call upon the superintendent of the Eastern Regional School District to restore the walkout as it was originally intended without delay. It is imperative to honor the tenets of free speech, inclusivity, and open dialogue that form the cornerstone of our educational community. We advocate for the right of students to peacefully express their views, a fundamental aspect of learning and growth.” 

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

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive director Selaedin Maksut, smaksut@cair.com, 908-668-5900 ext. 101, 908-267-3119

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Successful Student Negotiations with Rutgers University Administration, Urges University to Work Towards Divestment  

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Successful Student Negotiations with Rutgers University Administration, Urges University to Work Towards Divestment

(NEWARK, NJ, 5/07/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed Rutgers University’s students reaching an agreement with the Rutgers administration after a four-day long encampment.

Rutgers students negotiated with the university administration who committed to the last eight of the ten demands brought forward.

The demands were as follows

“1. Divest from any firm or corporation materially participating in, benefitting from, or otherwise supporting the state of Israel’s settler colonialism, apartheid, and genocide of Palestine and the Palestinian people, in accordance with the principles for divestment listed in university policy 40.2.14. 

2. Terminate its partnership with Tel Aviv University including in the HELIX Innovation Hub. 

3. Accept at least 10 displaced Gazan students to study at Rutgers University on scholarship. 

4. Provide resources for Palestinian and Arab students in the form of an Arab Cultural Center on each Rutgers campus. 

5. Establish a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a long-term educational and collaboration partnership with Birzeit University, Ramallah, Palestine — in accordance with precedent set by William Paterson University. 

6. Name “Palestine” and “Palestinians” in all future communications related to Israeli aggressions in Palestine (as opposed to “Middle East” “Gaza region” etc.), and release a statement from the Office of the President acknowledging the ongoing genocide against Palestinians, its impact on the Palestinian community at our university, and advocating for a ceasefire. 

7. Hire senior administrators with cultural competency and knowledge about Arabs, Palestinians, Muslims, anti-Palestinian racism, and Islamophobia.  

8. Hire additional professors specializing in Palestine studies and Middle East studies, institute a center for Palestine studies, and establish a path to departmentalization for Middle East studies. 

9. Display the flags of occupied peoples – including but not limited to Palestinians, Kurds, and Kashmiris – in all areas displaying international flags across the Rutgers campuses. 

10. Provide full amnesty for all students, student groups, faculty, and staff penalized for exercising their First Amendment right to protest Rutgers University’s support for Israeli human rights violations, and voice support for faculty and staff who have been publicly targeted for exercising their academic freedom.”

While the university administration did not meet the ask for divestment and termination of Rutgers University’s partnership with Tel Aviv university, CAIR-NJ welcomes the value of what was accomplished through the negotiations.

CAIR-NJ also welcomes the Rutgers administration for not going down the same path as Columbia University, and for not using violence and law enforcement to silence student protestors. The administration’s peaceful negotiations with students avoided potential civil rights violations, arrests, and violent escalation

The two main demands are still outstanding. CAIR-NJ urges that the conversation towards divestment should remain at the highest priority for Rutgers administration and its students.

SEE: RUTGERS ADMINISTRATION AGREES TO EIGHT DEMANDS PUT FORTH BY ENCAMPMENT PROTESTS 

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

“We welcome the work done by students at Rutgers New Brunswick University who were successful in negotiating with the university administration to meet eight out of their ten demands. 

Rutgers students have made undeniable progress, but there must continue to be pressure on Rutgers to divest from firms or corporations materially participating in, benefitting from, or otherwise supporting the state of Israel. Divestment is the number one priority of the student movement and those supporting them. Efforts to achieve it should passionately continue.

Students have every right to protest and assemble for Palestine. Universities across New Jersey must make it a priority to protect their students as they exercise these rights.” 

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

END

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

CAIR-NJ Report Shows Highest Number of Bias Complaints, 103 Percent Increase from Previous Year

CAIR-NJ Report Shows Highest Number of Bias Complaints, 103 Percent Increase from Previous Year

(NEWARK, NJ, 04/30/2024) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, released its 2024 report, which reveals the highest number of bias complaints it has ever received in a calendar year. Altogether, the data shows a 103 percent increase in incident reports from the year prior, 2022.

SEE: Resilience Amidst Adversity: 2024 Annual Impact & Data Report

Titled “Resilience Amid Adversity,” CAIR-NJ’s annual report documented 309 complaints spanning different areas over the course of 2023. More than half of these incidents were reported to CAIR-NJ in October through December. Though the number of reports was already outpacing the prior year’s — 2022 — and on track to surpass it, the last three months of 2023 paved the way for a 100% increase year-to-year.

The report breaks down the complaints CAIR-NJ received into different categories such as employment discrimination, hate crimes and incidents, and school bullying. The data shows that Muslim women may be more likely to experience anti-Muslim bigotry in the workplace and in public. On the other hand, Muslim men are more likely to be approached by the FBI and made up all of CAIR-NJ’s watchlist complaints. A plurality of all incidents occurred at educational institutions.

The highest number of complaints came out of Bergen County, where several freedom of speech violations took place, agent provocateurs are prevalent at demonstrations and elected officials seem to fan the fires of anti-Muslim hate more.

Despite the staggering numbers before us, Muslims remain undeterred and unafraid,” CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said. “We see Muslim students and employees exercising their right to free speech even more unabashedly now, whether that’s in their workplace, at school, or on their college campuses. Muslims will continue to travel even if they are subject to extra security screenings. Muslim women will continue to wear their hijabs even if they are harassed for it.

Even when our community severely underreports anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents, the data still shows a surge in anti-Muslim bigotry and hate surpassing the wave we saw with President Trump’s Muslim Ban,” CAIR-NJ Operations Manager Dyaa Terpstra, the primary author of the report, said. “This is largely due to public and elected officials’ imbalanced, disingenuous, and biased narratives about Israel’s war on Gaza. The data shows a worrying erosion of Americans’ civil rights in New Jersey, with children being bullied and experiencing hatred in their schools and adults being fired from their jobs, being subject to frivolous investigations at work and school, and being removed from their academic placements simply for speaking out against Israel’s genocidal war on Palestine.

Nationally, CAIR observed an unprecedented number of complaints in its 30-year history, with half of them from October through December. Altogether, this showed a 56 percent jump from the prior year.

SEE: 2024 Civil Rights Report: Fatal: The Resurgence of Anti-Muslim Hate 

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

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Operations Manager Dyaa Terpstra, 908-760-0129, dterpstra@cair.com

CAIR-NJ, ADC File Title VI Complaint Against Rutgers U. Citing Hostile Anti-Palestinian Environment

CAIR-NJ, ADC File Title VI Complaint Against Rutgers U. Citing Hostile Anti-Palestinian Environment

(NEWARK, NJ, 04/23/2024) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today filed a Title VI complaint against Rutgers University for ongoing, patterned anti-Palestinian bigotry at the Newark law school and New Brunswick undergraduate campuses, since October 2023.

SEE: Title VI Complaint Against Rutgers University Concerning Anti-Palestinian Discrimination

The complaint also alleges a lack of appropriate urgency from Rutgers University administrators concerning Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students’ physical safety and overall wellbeing on university campuses.

“Rutgers has had ample notice of the ongoing pattern and practice of direct and indirect anti-Palestinian discrimination from the university and hostile on campus environment,” the complaint reads. “Nonetheless, Rutgers has failed to respond or take any meaningful steps to address it.”

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

“That college campuses across the country have become an increasingly hostile environment to Muslim and Palestinian students and their allies — especially in the wake of Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza — is no secret.

“University administrations have effectively enabled this climate of hostility and unsafe environment when they repeatedly refused to act and respond with appropriate urgency to Muslim and Palestinian students’ concerns.

“We call on the Department of Education to thoroughly investigate students’ claims and to uphold and protect their civil rights.”

In a statement, ADC Staff Attorney Chris Godshall-Bennett said:

“College campuses should be a place where students feel free to be themselves and express their identities. Their power and voice should be protected and uplifted, and university administrators have a duty to ensure that the campus environment fosters that strength.

“Instead, Rutgers University has allowed a patently hostile and unsafe climate to relegate its Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students to a second-class status, denying them their right to an education free of harassment and discrimination. We expect the Department of Education to take these claims seriously and fully investigate this pattern and practice of discrimination.”

CAIR’s vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.

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

END

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

 

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Federal Hate Crime Charges Against Individual Who Vandalized Rutgers Muslim Chaplaincy House

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Federal Hate Crime Charges Against Individual Who Vandalized Rutgers Muslim Chaplaincy House  

(NEWARK, NJ, 4/22/2024) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations today welcomed federal hate crime charges against the individual who allegedly vandalized the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University (CILRU).

SEE: Rutgers University Crime Alert: Muslim Chaplaincy House

The alleged perpetrator, 24-year-old Jacob Beacher, is not affiliated with Rutgers University, according to communication from Rutgers police.

The incident comes amid a rising tide of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry nationwide.

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

Muslim, Palestinian, and allied students across college campuses are facing an upsurge in bigoted attacks, especially as they advocate for Palestinian liberation.

“The vandalization of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University (CILRU), which had a Palestinian flag displayed, is an example of such bigoted violence.

The CILRU has been a leading voice in advocating for Muslim students on campus and has expressed unequivocal support for Palestine actions and advocacy at Rutgers University.

University administrators must act with urgency to protect Muslim, Palestinian, and allied students, and until they do so, they are putting these students in direct harm’s way.

In a statement, the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University said:

We are humbled by the amazing and generous outpouring from the Rutgers community and the community at large.

These acts of support from the outright donations, donations in kind to replace stolen and damaged items, flowers, balloons, calls and emails have been overwhelming and heartening. We are thankful and grateful.

SEE: CILRU Press Release 04/22/2024

CAIR’s vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.

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

END  

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

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Rutgers U. Student Vote in Favor of Israel Divestment

CAIR-NJ Welcomes Rutgers U. Student Vote in Favor of Israel Divestment

(NEWARK, NJ, 4/17/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed an overwhelming “yes” vote by Rutgers University students at the New Brunswick campus in favor of an Israel divestment referendum.

Rutgers students voted to call on the university administration to withdraw investments in Israel and to cancel the school’s partnership with Tel Aviv University.

Some 80 percent of students voted to divest the university’s endowment fund “from companies that profit from, engage in, or contribute to the government of Israel’s human rights violations.”

More than 6,000 students agreed that the university should end its relations with Tel Aviv University.

SEE: Rutgers students at New Brunswick campus vote ‘yes’ on Israel divestment referendum 

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

“We welcome this important vote as a strong indication of where Rutgers University students stand. 

“Israel is currently executing a campaign of genocide, ethnic cleansing and forced starvation targeting the Palestinian people and we cannot continue to be business as usual.”

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

END

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

CAIR-NJ Condemns Vandalism Targeting Rutgers Muslim Chaplaincy House, Welcomes Hate Crime Probe

The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today condemned vandalism targeting the Muslim Chaplaincy house at Rutgers University (A.K.A. CILRU, Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University).

[NOTE: The news of this vandalism comes as a San Francisco mosque has been vandalized more than once during Ramadan.]

CAIR-NJ also welcomed the attorney general’s participation in a hate crime investigation being led by local New Brunswick police.

SEE: Rutgers Islamic center burglarized as Ramadan ends

SEE VIDEO OF VANDALISM.

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

“CILRU is the heart of Muslim life on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus. Students gather at the center to enjoy community, worship together, and support each other. Its desecration, especially on the Islamic holiday of Eid, is deeply distressing. 

“Our CAIR-New Jersey office continues to see an unprecedented uptick in reports alleging anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias incidents and discrimination. 

“We welcome the investigation by New Brunswick police and the support of the Attorney general’s office. This belligerent incident of hate must be prosecuted as such.

“CAIR-New Jersey calls on civic and political leaders and interfaith allies to show their solidarity with the CILRU community by sending letters to their 122 College Avenue New Brunswick, NJ 08901 address. 

“We also call on Rutgers University to heed the concerns of Muslim students who have long expressed concern of the rise anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate.

Maksut urged houses of worship to utilize CAIR’s Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety guide, which contains security advice applicable to institutions of all faiths.

He noted that CAIR’s new civil rights report released earlier this month revealed the highest number of bias complaints ever received in its 30-year history.

SEE: New CAIR Civil Rights Report Reveals Highest Number of Complaints in Group’s 30-Year History

In statement, CILRU Chairwomen Atiyah Aftab said:

“On the auspicious occasion of Eid, our hearts are heavy as we report an act of vandalism at the Muslim Chaplaincy house at Rutgers University. 

“Today, we witnessed art pieces with Quranic verses, shattered windows, vandalized TVs, broken printers, smashed artwork and the destruction of our Palestinian flag.

“This reprehensible act, occurring on our sacred day, is undoubtedly fueled by Islamophobia is clearly a hate crime targeting our Muslim population at Rutgers.

We will continue to say what we are supposed to on Eid. Allahu Akbar, God is Greater. God is Greater than acts of hate and we will continue to carry on.

“Our building can be smashed, but our wills cannot. Allahu Akbar wa lillahil Hamd.”

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

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, smaksut@cair.com, 908-267-3119

CAIR-NJ Acknowledges Gov. Murphy’s Statement on Gaza, Calls on Administration to Address Israeli Genocide in Gaza

CAIR-NJ Acknowledges Gov. Murphy’s Statement on Gaza, Calls on Administration to Address Israeli Genocide in Gaza

(NEWARK, NJ, 03/27/2024) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today acknowledged Gov. Phil Murphy’s support for a ceasefire in Gaza but said he must also address the Israeli genocide in Palestine.

SEE: Statement from Governor Murphy on the Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

In his statement, Gov. Murphy says, “In that spirit, today, I am adding my voice in support of the Biden Administration’s efforts to secure an immediate and sustained ceasefire by all parties that includes the release of the remaining hostages being held by Hamas. Such an agreement will allow desperately needed humanitarian aid – food, water, medical supplies, and more – to flow into Gaza, saving potentially thousands of lives.”

The Governor’s statement comes in the wake of several Muslim and Palestinian groups’ calls for a boycott of the administration’s anticipated Ramadan iftar. 

SEE: Muslims urge Ramadan boycott of Murphy, NJ public officials over Gaza war

While CAIR-NJ appreciated the governor’s efforts in successfully bringing home some Palestinian Americans in Gaza, the civil rights organization underscored that his support for a ceasefire comes six months into Israel’s war on the already besieged Gaza Strip. To date, Israel has killed over 32,000 Palestinians. New Jersey’s Palestinian community, specifically, estimates it has had nearly 3,000 family members killed.

The Governor also does not acknowledge Israel’s accountability for what international bodies — including a U.S. court — have called plausible charges of genocide.

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

“Governor Murphy’s support for a ceasefire in Gaza comes in response to Muslim and Palestinian groups’ demands. While we welcome any call for a ceasefire in Gaza that will save thousands of people, the Governor’s statement is nearly six months and several thousand Palestinian bodies late.

“The Governor’s words also deflect from the root cause of violence in Gaza and continue to play a role in the anti-Muslim bigotry we see by shifting blame. To call Israel’s war on Gaza a ‘humanitarian crisis’ is to erase history. This is not a natural disaster; it is a genocide with a government to hold accountable.

“CAIR-New Jersey will withdraw ourselves from his administration’s celebratory events, such as his anticipated annual Ramadan iftar and/or Eid celebration until the Governor addresses the root cause of violence in Gaza — that is, Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Over 40 of the most prominent New Jersey mosques and Muslim organizations across the state have also agreed to do the same.  

“Our Islamic faith teaches us to be firm in upholding justice. To welcome empty gestures of support for our community is to contradict the very principles of our faith. While it is important and necessary to call for a ceasefire, it is no longer enough. Gov. Murphy must do better to fight for justice for his American Muslim and Palestinian constituencies.”

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

END    

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