New Jersey Muslim community and faith leaders have hailed the governor’s decision to designate January as “Muslim Heritage Month” after years of rallying for the decision.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a proclamation Saturday in a measure that will bring more awareness to the Muslim communities in the state, North Jersey reported.
“As a state that has the highest percentage of Muslims in the nation, we are so overjoyed to have a month that celebrates and recognizes our community in a positive light and hope that this recognition further pushes the engagement of the Muslim community in society,” said Zainab Syed, an organizer with American Muslims for Democracy, one of the organizations that advocated for the measure.
Governor Murphy signed the proclamation at Drumthwacket, the governor’s official residence in Princeton, during a celebration for the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
“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.
“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.”
The news of Muslim Heritage Month added joy to the governor’s gathering, which drew Muslim community leaders and elected officials from across the state.
“For too long, we’ve seen damaging and irresponsible depictions of Muslims,” said Selaedin Maksut, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“These narratives have tangible consequences, but now we will be seeing the counter and, hopefully soon, prevailing narrative: One that highlights, celebrates and acknowledges the American Muslim community in New Jersey.”
The proclamation followed a bill by State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, who sought to elevate awareness and appreciation of the Muslim American community and their accomplishments in New Jersey.
According to the bill, there are nearly 300,000 American Muslims in New Jersey, including numerous current and former elected officials dedicated to public service in their communities.
This follows in line with the stances of other states that have recognized the contributions of Muslims and their achievements.
Last July, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox declared July as Muslim American Heritage Month.
In 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a proclamation in December to celebrate January as Muslim History Month.
Also in 2021, the city of Fullerton, Los Angeles, recognized August as “Muslim-American Appreciation Month.”