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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Designates January as Muslim Heritage Month in State

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Designates January as Muslim Heritage Month in State

  • Advocates hope the measure, co-sponsored by South Asian legislators, will promote appreciation and awareness about Muslim traditions and contributions and combat Islamophobia.

Going forward, the month of January will be observed as Muslim Heritage Month in New Jersey. Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the proclamation “in a measure that advocates say will promote appreciation and awareness about Muslim traditions and contributions,” according to the resolution.

Murphy signed the proclamation at Drumthwacket, the governor’s official residence in Princeton, during a celebration for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. “I am proud to designate January of each year as Muslim Heritage Month, as it will shine a light on the rich histories, cultures, and shared principles of Muslim Americans,” Murphy said, according to northjersey.com. “New Jersey takes great pride in its diversity, and we will continue to recognize and celebrate the positive impact Muslims have made, and continue to make, to the advancement of this state.”

Before it reached the governor’s desk, the bill got unanimous support from lawmakers. It was earlier passed by the state Assembly in March, and passed by the state Senate in February. It was sponsored by Assemblywomen Angela V. McKnight, Shanique Speight, and Annette Chaparro, and co-sponsored by others including South Asian lawmakers — Assemblywomen Sadaf Jaffer and Shama Haider as well as Assemblyman Shirley Stanley. Additionally, the bill received support from “more than 70 organizations, schools, and mosques across the state” said a press release from the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In New Jersey, Muslims make up 3% of the population, or about 300,000 people, according to data from the Pew Research Center. The state also has “the highest elected representation among Muslims with over 40 people serving in political office,” noted north jersey.com. Last year, Jaffer and Haider became the first two Muslims to serve in the New Jersey Legislature. 

Supporters told the portal that they hope the resolution “will promote greater understanding of Muslim heritage, recognize Muslim Americans’ contributions and combat Islamophobia.” Zainab Syed, president of American Muslims for Democracy, told northjersey.com that the group is “overjoyed to have a month that celebrates and recognizes our community in a positive light.” She hopes that “this recognition further pushes the engagement of the Muslim community in society.”

Similarly, Selaedin Maksut, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations noted how the community has seen “damaging and irresponsible depictions of Muslims.” Noting that “these narratives have tangible consequences, he hoped that the community “will be seeing the counter and, hopefully soon, prevailing narrative: one that highlights, celebrates and acknowledges the American Muslim community in New Jersey.”

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