ACLU-NJ to Muslim Orgs: We’re Ready to Defend Your Rights

January 24, 2017

ACLU-NJ sends letters to 150 NJ-based mosques, Muslim organizations & leaders in solidarity offering to defend rights

In a letter landing in mailboxes this week sent to more than 150 New Jersey Islamic leaders, organizations, refugee resettlement agencies, and student associations, the ACLU-NJ announced that it is prepared and ready to protect and defend the civil rights of Muslim New Jerseyans.

“It’s important to us that you know the ACLU of New Jersey will do everything in its power to help defend your rights if they are threatened, as well as the rights of your fellow worshippers, community members, and your families,” the letter (PDF) said.

In the wake of the election of Donald Trump, who made anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim policy proposals a centerpiece of his campaign, both the ACLU and ACLU of New Jersey have planned for ramped-up protection of civil liberties, including through greater outreach in immigrant communities. The ACLU-NJ is offering to challenge discrimination or unlawful surveillance in court, conduct presentations and distribute information about constitutional rights, and help ensure the community is prepared for any threats to civil rights and liberties.

“We pledge here and now to intensify our work alongside immigrant and Muslim communities in defense of the rights that everyone in America is guaranteed,” said ACLU-NJ Interim Executive Director Diane Du Brule. “As one of the most diverse states in the nation, with Ellis Island in our back yard, we have a particular responsibility to make sure every person in every community here can live freely and without fear of discrimination.”

The ACLU emphasized its historic role defending the rights of people to express their religious beliefs and live freely without persecution, regardless of faith or ethnicity, from challenging the unconstitutional internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor to dragnet sweeps of people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent after Sept. 11. Most recently in New Jersey, the ACLU-NJ joined a brief supporting a congregation of Muslim worshippers who experienced religious discrimination as they sought approval to build a mosque in Bernards Township.

“In the current environment, Muslims are facing serious threats to their rights to worship and live free from surveillance or discrimination,” said ACLU-NJ Legal Director Ed Barocas. “We must learn the painful lessons of history and fight back against hate and discrimination now, not once it’s too late. That’s why the ACLU will be doing all it can to work in partnership with Muslim New Jerseyans and other vulnerable communities to protect and defend fundamental rights.”

Anyone who experiences violations of their civil rights should contact the ACLU-NJ’s intake department, via phone at 973-642-2084, or through our online form at: https://www.aclu-nj.org/yourrights/fileacomplaint/onlinecomplaint/

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