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Union County man shares tale of anti-Muslim discrimination

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Former Marine Sgt. Affraz Mohammed is a Union County resident with a story to tell.

Mohammed, who lives in Springfield, is sharing a story that is gaining relevance in post-election America, as certain ethnic and religious groups have been affected by the policies of the new administration in Washington. Many Muslims have told him, he said, that they feel targeted. Mohammed tells LocalSource that many of these experiences today are reminiscent of the national mood following Sept. 11, 2001.

Mohammed’s story began in Trinidad, where he and his 12 siblings were born. He came to the U.S. when he was 5 years old.

“I grew up in the ghettos of Newark, where being Muslim was not an issue unless we wore religious dress, but I was made fun of for being Indian, and it was not cool to be interested in education, so I did not do well in school,” Mohammed told LocalSource in a March 10 email.

Mohammed describes himself as “fairly intelligent but not educated.”
“I was determined to have a life beyond the ghetto, and older siblings and cousins had joined the military, so I did as well,” Mohammed said. “Growing up watching another cousin murdered in the street and where violence was part of daily life, I figured that if I was killed in the military, my mother would receive a $250,000 check as opposed to dying in the street for nothing.”

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Statement of 81 Civil, Human Rights, and Faith Based Groups

      Serious Concerns Regarding Harm to American Muslim Civil Society from Terrorism

Media reports suggest that the Trump administration is considering designating the Muslim
Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. The undersigned coalition of organizations is deeply
concerned that such a designation could lead to the stigmatization and targeting of American
Muslim civil society, including non-profits, charities, religious organizations, and activists.

For several years, fringe anti-Muslim voices have called for the designation of the Brotherhood
as a terrorist group, and framed American Muslim civil society and leaders as suspect or
criminal through guilt by spurious association. We note that numerous scholars and national
security and foreign policy experts from across the political spectrum have voiced concern
regarding the validity of such a designation. We are particularly concerned about the effects of
such a designation on American Muslim civil society, including non-citizens, refugees, and
asylum seekers. Even without a formal designation, some have used false “six degrees of
separation” accusations about the Muslim Brotherhood as a way to smear prominent Muslims,
American Muslim civic and religious institutions, as well as a range of other people. Accusations
from government officials can have the power to destroy reputations and chill lawful activity,
including freedom of worship, association, expression, and charitable giving.

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