In response to the dog-whistle flyer funded by New Jersey State Senator Bob Smith (D-17) and circulated by Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler’s wife which calls a Muslim community leader and former Board of Education member “the leader of a radical group trying to take over our local government,” progressive Middlesex County Democratic Organization Committee Members in the Piscataway Democratic Organization (“PDO”) issued the following statement:
For the better part of the last two decades the term “radical” has been negatively associated with Islam and Muslims resulting in anti-Muslim sentiment, bigotry and violence. According to Pew Research Center in 2007, the term “radical” was among the words most used to negatively describe Islam and Muslims.
And when is anti-Muslim sentiment highest? Not after domestic terror attacks such as 9/11 or the Boston Bombing. According to, Director of Research at the and former adviser to President , anti-Muslim sentiment has been at its highest during the lead up to war, and during election cycles. Politicians manufacture Islamophobia to score political points, the most extreme example being Donald Trump during the 2016 election cycle. On a related note, President Obama refused to connect the term “radical” with Islam and Muslims, for which he was criticized by many on the right including Donald Trump.
And why exactly was Dr. Atif Nazir mentioned in the letter? He is not a leader of thenor is he running in any current elections. It is evident that the Piscataway Democratic Organization is attempting to score cheap political shots at the expense of the local Muslim community by using right-wing tactics of fear-mongering and dog-whistle politics.
The Piscataway Democratic Organization, Senator Bob Smith, Councilman Kapil Shah, Board of Education member Nitang Patel, and Zoning Board member Kalpesh Patel have not only turned their back on Democratic Party values but also the Muslim community with this attack on a Muslim resident during the month of Ramadan.
They owe Dr. Atif Nazir and the Muslim community an apology.
Unfortunately, the PDO and its leaders refused to do so last evening, despite our request. The Municipal Chairman said he had not seen the letter. We made him and the rest of the committee members aware of the letter – which has been one of the most debated issues in our community on social media since its discovery last Sunday. The PDO has the opportunity to reject its hateful message, but chose not to do so. We oppose these divisive tactics and will continue to hold elected officials who should know better than this accountable. We urge them to reject the message of hate and to issue an apology to Dr. Nazir and our entire community.
Herbert Tarbous, MCDO Committeeman, Piscataway Ward 1-District 5
Abdul-Basit Haqq, MCDO Committeeman, Piscataway Ward 1-District 7
Dr. Tom Connors, MCDO Committeeman, Piscataway Ward 2-District 2