‘This proclamation gives us visibility’

Princeton Council recognizes January as Muslim Heritage Month

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The Princeton Council honored the town’s Muslim American community with a proclamation recognizing January as Muslim Heritage Month.

The proclamation, which was issued at the Princeton Council’s Feb. 12 meeting, grew out of a joint resolution by the New Jersey Legislature in 2023 that designated January as Muslim Heritage Month in the state.

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“Princeton is proud to recognize the contributions of the Muslim American community that plays an important role in enriching the unique character of the town,” according to the proclamation.

It notes that worldwide, there are 1.9 billion people who are Muslims. They represent about 25% of the world’s population. Islam is the world’s second-largest religious group.

There are about 3.4 million Muslims in the United States, representing about 1.1% of the American population. This includes nearly 300,000 Muslims in New Jersey. They come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, the proclamation stated.

“Muslims arrived in North America along with enslaved Africans, of whom historians estimate 30% were Muslims. Their Islamic beliefs and practices contributed in numerous ways to the founding of our nation, including courageous and dedicated military service in every major war, including the American Revolutionary War,” the proclamation said.

The proclamation outlined Muslims’ contributions and achievements in philosophy, math, chemistry, physics, astronomy, medicine, music, architecture, literature and the arts.

It also pointed out that Princeton was the first town in New Jersey to pass a resolution to condemn and combat Islamophobia in December 2023. The resolution was suggested by the Princeton Civil Rights Commission before it was dissolved.

Several speakers praised the Princeton Council at its Feb. 12 meeting for adopting the proclamation declaring January as Muslim Heritage Month.

Princeton High School junior Hayah Mian said the proclamation marks an important and thoughtful milestone in Princeton’s Muslim community, of which she is a member.

Mian said that growing up in Princeton, she has been surrounded by women and men who have guided her to become not only a better Muslim, but a better member of the community.

“This proclamation gives us visibility and gives the community an incentive to engage as citizens, so our point of view is relevant and important,” she said.

As a member of the Muslim community, Mian said, she will continue to work to make Princeton a better place for people of all faiths and beliefs.

Princeton University Assistant Professor Tehseen Thaver also thanked the town for recognizing the rich and complex heritage of Islam and Muslim societies and its “centrality” in the past and present United States.

“But as we commemorate the proclamation of Muslim Heritage Month, we must remember and not lose sight of the significance of Palestine to Muslim life and heritage,” Thaver said.

It is not possible to celebrate Muslim heritage without acknowledging “the most violent example of the oppression of Muslim and Arab life in the world today – the ongoing genocide of the people of Palestine,” she said.

“If we are indeed serious about the laudable goal of respecting and cherishing Muslim life, (there should be) a call for an immediate ceasefire” in the conflict between Hamas and Israel, she said.

Hamas launched a terror attack on Israeli settlements on Oct. 7, 2023 that killed more than 1,200 Israelis and the capture of more than 230 Israelis and foreigners as hostages.

Israel responded by crossing the border into the Gaza Strip in search of Hamas operatives and to rescue the hostages. Hamas released 105 hostages, but about 130 remain as captives. Some of the hostages ae believed to have died in captivity.

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