New Jersey state legislators hope to pass a bipartisan resolution recognizing January as Muslim Heritage month statewide.
Advocates for the resolution want the measure to pass both state houses before the end of the current legislative session, Republican State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio – who is a sponsor of the resolution – told CNN.
“This is an important thing that we can do to show our Muslim friends” camaraderie and thankfulness for their contributions, Pinnacchio said.
The legislature has a full year to pass the resolution, but he hopes it doesn’t take that long.
“This is just a resolution acknowledging … all of the things that this community has done,” Pinnacchio said.
The current legislative session ends in January 2024.
New Jersey has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.
Incidents of hate against Muslims have been on the rise in New Jersey, according to Dina Sayedahmed, communications manager for the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
She added that her office has recently received more than 160 calls for help and hopes it will help reduce the number of hate incidents against Muslims.
Sayedahmed added that while CAIR-NJ supports the measure overall, the organization feels the name of the proposed resolution should be changed to Muslim Appreciation Month.
“We want to dispel any myths that Islam is a culture or Islam is a heritage that’s simply like, passed down,” Sayedahmed said. “We feel that Muslim appreciation is more appropriate.”
“We’re hoping that this resolution can help highlight the accomplishments and also the … culture and the diversity of the Muslim community and Muslim American community,” she said.
She also hopes it will help counter anti-Muslim sentiments and “uplift the Muslim community” by presenting them in a “positive light, as opposed to the normal depictions that we see.”
If New Jersey approves the resolution, the state will join Utah, Washington and Illinois as the only states to recognize January as a month celebrating Muslim American heritage. On the federal level, measures have been introduced in both the House and Senate to have the holiday recognized nationwide.
“By designating January as Muslim Heritage Month, we are carving out time to recognize the positive impact Muslims continue to have on our state and nation,” said State Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson). “One of New Jersey’s best attributes is its diversity. People of all religions and races contribute to our communities and we need to recognize and acknowledge all contributions from all backgrounds.”