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Nearly 50 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents in New Jersey, report finds

Council on American-Islamic Relations received 152 complaints last year, up from 104 in 2021
Muslim men pray at a mosque in Jersey City, New Jersey, on 7 December 2015 (AFP)

There was a 46 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents in the US state of New Jersey in 2022 compared to the previous year, a new report shows.

According to the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (Cair) new 52-page report, “Beyond the Courts”, the civil rights organisation received 152 complaints last year. In 2021, the number of complaints was 104. 

The numbers do not account for every incident of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias in New Jersey, rather they reflect sample data that consists of reports by community members and greater trends overall, the report stated.

"While it is true that the tragic events of September 11, 2001, shot Muslims into the international spotlight overnight, structural anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry and the resulting violence have long preceded the events of 9/11."

One of the main objectives of the report was to correct the narrative and “dangerous misinformation” campaigns “given the imploding anti-Muslim rhetoric that, ultimately, normalizes anti-Muslim bigotry and violence and makes way for anti-Muslim legislation”.

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Nearly 22.4 percent of the complaints, the report found, were related to employment. About 18.4 percent were referrals, which constitute community reports for issues that fall outside of Cair-NJ’s scope, such as criminal law, immigration law, divorce and family law, and financial assistance. 

According to the report, nearly 17.8 percent of the complaints were related to schools, which involved bullying, perceived bias, mistreatment, curriculum issues, and denial of religious accommodations.

“Discrimination cases are easier to pursue when the perpetrator is not of a minority group, but perpetrators of anti-Muslim bias in New Jersey are diverse. The public at large still needs proactive education on Islam.”

Hate incidents 

Several incidents of anti-Muslim hate have been documented in the state over the past year.

In August 2022, a bulldozer was controversially displayed during an India Independence Day event in New Jersey, something critics say has become a symbol for Hindu nationalist politicians and a tool to intimidate the country's minority Muslim community.

New Jersey prosecutors conclude that bulldozer at India Day was a 'bias incident'
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“We urged officials and the public that just because they may not know what Hindutva is, or have never seen a bulldozer used as a hate symbol, this shouldn't mean they do not care,” the report said.

“What was supposed to be a celebration of independence from colonial rule was hijacked by hate.”

In January 2023, the inclusion of the bulldozer was deemed an act of bias, a joint investigation by the local county's prosecutor's office and police department found

In 2022, a 14-year-old Muslim boy was playing basketball. A group of five high school boys started allegedly hurling racial epithets at him and told him to leave the basketball court. He refused and ignored them and then they started throwing balls and other objects at him.

Also that same year, a Muslim woman who worked at a bank in Hudson County, New Jersey, was allegedly called a “piece of shit” by her supervisor who was displeased that she would not drink alcohol during happy hours, the report stated. 

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