CAIR-NJ @cair.nj Condemns Congressman Gottheimer for Defamatory, Anti-Muslim Statements (press release)
(NEWARK, NJ, 1/29/2024) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today condemned Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s (D-NJ) defamatory and anti-Muslim statements against the organization in a letter obtained by the New York Post.
In the letter, the Congressman said that Teaneck Public Schools’ potential partnership with CAIR-NJ, the leading Muslim civil rights group in New Jersey, is “outrageous and unacceptable,” according to the New York Post.
The Congressman went on to say that CAIR-NJ should not be afforded a pulpit to “promote antisemitism and hatred as part of the Teaneck’s curriculum,” according to the New York Post.
In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:
“CAIR and CAIR-NJ have a strong track record of standing against all forms of bigotry, including antisemitism. The Congressman’s accusations are a distraction from the reality that between October 7 and December 31, 2023, we’ve received 157 reports of anti-Muslim bigotry. To contextualize that number, we’ve received 152 reports of anti-Muslim bigotry in all of 2022.
“This dramatic increase in reports is due, in part, to elected officials’ grossly imbalanced and disingenuous statements on Palestine – much like Rep. Gottheimer’s. The Congressman has shown no regard or concern for New Jersey Muslims who, since Israel began its war on Gaza on October 7, have seen a 336 percent increase in anti-Muslim bigotry. He has placed the Muslim community in New Jersey, and within his constituency especially, in direct harm’s way.”
In a statement, CAIR-NJ Civil Rights Attorney Ayah Zaki, Esq. said:
“We’ve been on high alert since October 7, representing Muslims in their workplaces as they experience retaliation and in their academic institutions as they are faced with disciplinary actions simply for supporting Palestinians’ internationally recognized right to freedom.
“We’ve also partnered with local mosques and community centers across the state to hold Know Your Rights presentations several times a month because what we’re seeing now is very much reminiscent of what we’ve seen in the days and months immediately after 911: a rapid erosion of our civil rights.
“The Congressman’s defamatory attacks on our work and his unfounded accusations of antisemitism are a distraction at best. Our civil rights and legal advocacy work will continue.”
Since October 7, Congressman Gottheimer has made a number of statements and comments about Israel’s war on Gaza and the ensuing protests in New Jersey.
The Congressman accused students at Teaneck High School of antisemitism when they staged a walkout – with the permission and support of Superintendent Dr. Andre Spencer – against Israel’s war on Gaza. In another instance, the Congressman accused Muslim students at Rutgers University of “justifying the rape, murder, beheading, & kidnapping” of Americans, amplifying a long-ago debunked story about “beheaded babies” and playing into dangerous and defamatory anti-Muslim tropes. He also directly encouraged the university to silence these student protesters and violate their First Amendment rights.
The Congressman also used his authority and platform as an elected official to participate in the doxing and bullying of a Ramapo College professor, at a time when doxing and employment retaliation of pro-Palestine advocates is rapidly increasing.
Rep. Gottheimer allegedly made anti-Muslim remarks at a closed-door caucus meeting in mid-October 2023.
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, email@example.com, 908-668-5900 ext. 103