January is now Muslim Heritage Month in New Jersey. Gov. Phil Murphy signed a joint resolution (SJR105/ AJR194), sponsored by Senators Joe Pennacchio and Brian Stack, and Assemblymembers Angela McKnight, Shanique Speight, and Annette Chaparro, to designate the month during an Eid celebration on April 29.

“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,” said Murphy.

In a statement, Madina P. Ouedraogo, government affairs manager at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, New Jersey (CAIR-NJ), said: “New Jersey’s Muslim community has long awaited this moment, when the Muslim heritage month resolution is passed and signed into law. Today, the Garden State is proudly celebrating its rich religious and cultural diversity.

“American Muslims have and continue to be a pivotal foundation of this state, but they have long been stigmatized, marginalized, and underappreciated. This new law signals a new tide.”

According to CAIR, 3.5% of New Jerseyans are Muslim—the highest percentage of Muslim residents in the U.S.

The organization also noted that “Muslim Heritage Month started with a vision from the Honorable Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. The first Muslims to observe Ramadan in America were enslaved Africans who carried their faith with them and used it as a way to stay connected to their identities that were being brutally stripped from them while in bondage. It was their descendants, Black and African American Muslims, who would go on to later lay the foundation for the modern-day American Muslim experience. The Honorable Imam Mohammed sought to make sure that this history is acknowledged and celebrated.”

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