Anti-Muslim bigotry is occurring at a record pace in the Garden State, according to figures released on Tuesday by the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In its Resilience Amidst Adversity report, CAIR-NJ documented 309 bias complaints in 2023. That's a 103% increase from the year prior and the highest number of complaints the organization has ever received in a calendar year.

CAIR-NJ's report comes a month after the Anti-Defamation League found that New Jersey led the nation with 8.93 antisemitic incidents per 100,000 residents. The ADL report said New Jersey recorded 830 incidents, including 17 assaults, against Jewish victims last year, twice as many as in 2022.

Read More: Antisemitism report gives unfortunate distinction to New Jersey

Anti-Muslim trend

More than half of 2023's incidents were reported to CAIR-NJ in the final quarter of the year, so the group says the spike last year has to be attributed to the Hamas-Israel war in Gaza, which was sparked by a terror attack on Israel in early October. The ADL also attributed a spike in anti-Semitic attacks on the Oct. 7 attacks.

"That may seem like something that's just happening over there, but it's having very direct impacts here," said Dyaa Terpstra, operations manager for CAIR-NJ and principal author of the report.

Last year's numbers were already on track to surpass 2022's figures. The invasion in October paved the way for the complaint tally to more than double the previous year's count.

Four categories made up a majority of complaints in 2023: hate crimes and incidents; employment discrimination; education discrimination; and school bullying.

A plurality of incidents occurred at education institutions, the report says. According to CAIR-NJ's data, Muslim women seem to be more likely to be the target of anti-Muslim behaviors in the workplace and in public.

Bergen County produced the highest number of complaints in 2023, according to the report.

“Despite the staggering numbers before us, Muslims remain undeterred and unafraid,” said CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut. “We see Muslim students and employees exercising their right to free speech even more unabashedly now, whether that’s in their workplace, at school, or on their college campuses."

Protesters outside Clio Hall at Princeton University 4/29/24
Protesters outside Clio Hall at Princeton University 4/29/24 (@princeton4palestine via Instagram)

The report likely offers only a snapshot of the true reach of incidents targeting the Muslim community. According to the Attorney General's Office, anti-Muslim incidents jumped 75% from 2022 to 2023 in New Jersey.

"Our community struggles with reporting hate and bias incidents and crimes," Terpstra said.

Nationally, CAIR observed a 56% jump in complaints between 2022 and 2023.

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