The mayor of Newark is demanding that a New Jersey state worker be fired and criminally prosecuted after the Labor Department employee was accused of tearing off the hijab of a woman in the office and throwing it to the ground.
The employee at the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, identified only as a 67-year-old man, was suspended without pay after he “ridiculed and assaulted” the woman, a city worker, by grabbing her hijab and throwing it to the floor at a Newark job resource center Dec. 5, Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement. Baraka is calling for the worker to be fired and investigated for a hate crime.
“This was an act of hate against the Islamic faith as well as an attack on her as a woman,” Baraka said. “In the present climate of violence against Muslims across America and around the world, hate crimes must be recognized for what they are and they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
He lamented that the “climate of anti-Muslim violence that has exploded in recent weeks is leaving tragedy, pain and division in its wake.”
The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations joined Baraka in condemning anti-Muslim attacks.
“In a civil society such as ours, the rights of all citizens to observe their faith without fear for their safety and security must be vigorously protected,” James Sues, executive director of CAIR New Jersey, said in a statement.
A Labor Department official said an investigation into the incident is continuing and that procedures to terminate the worker’s employment have begun.
A spokeswoman for the Essex County prosecutor’s office told NJ.com that the incident did not constitute a hate crime under state law. Newark police said the man has been charged with harassment, according to NorthJersey.com
A Bayonne, New Jersey, man was arrested in October and charged with spraying anti-Muslim graffiti on a school, and campaign signs for a South Brunswick candidate who is Muslim were marked with slurs.