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In response to a call for him to apologize or resign after he shared offensive comments about Islam, Raritan Twp. Committeeman Louis Reiner, listed on the town website as the deputy mayor, today issued the following statement:
“I sincerely regret my Facebook post yesterday using a poor choice of words, seemingly calling the entire Islamic faith violent. My intentions were to highlight the radical fringe jihadists who have highjacked their faith. We need more people of faith in our society today. I offer this apology to the vast majority of Muslims who practice their faith peacefully and contribute greatly to our community.”
According to Tapinto, the Republican elected official from the blue collar Hunterdon County town had originally shared a post calling Islam a “cancer” that “must be treated with radiation,” and then made follow up comments to a reporter stating that the “religion itself is absolutely evil”. He also said, “I’m an infidel, and I’m proud of it.”
Earlier today, U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7) called on Reiner to apologize or resign.
“I call on Committeeman Reiner to apologize for his comments or resign immediately,” demanded the freshman congressman. “This hate filled rhetoric has no place in our country. In every part of New Jersey and across the United States, Muslim-Americans are part of our American family. They are teachers, doctors, nurses, and small business owners, public officials, police officers, and members of our military. Our country’s success in giving people of all faiths the chance to live the American dream so long as they embrace American ideals makes us stronger and is the most powerful rebuke to our enemies in the world.
The comment from a Republican committeeman landed in the edge of a longtime GOP-controlled county where control for the freeholder board is at stake in Somerset.
Contacted for comment, Mayor Jeff Kuhl offered the following comment:
“Myself and the other members of Township Committee condemn Mr. Reiner’s comments and we will be sending out a formal letter to that effect shortly as well as taking any proper actions needed. No person of faith should be treated this way and we do not condone his comments or similar comments at all.”
It is not an isolated insistence of hate speech in this campaign cycle.
Last week, Paterson Democratic Councilman Mike Jackson sparked outrage after he used antisemitic language on the dais in City Hall.
In Trenton, Council President Kathy McBride used the same racist term – “Jew us down”, which subsequently sparked Councilman George Muschal to apologize for his own inability to condemn the remark.
Trenton At-Large Councilman Jerell Blakeley called for the broader Trenton community to attend an Emergency Town Hall Condemning Hate Speech meeting tonight at Trenton’s City Hall Council Chambers at 5:30 PM. In the wake of local, state, and national condemnation of the use and minimization of Anti-Semitic slurs by members of Trenton’s City Council and the continued silence and failure to acknowledge said slurs by other members of City Council, Blakeley calls the meeting imperative.
“I am inviting the Trenton community to attend this Emergency Town Hall meeting to show our county, state, and country that the Anti-Semitic comments of my colleagues don’t represent the values of the Trenton community,” said Councilman Blakeley. “Religious, political and community leaders are scheduled to give remarks at tonight’s Emergency Town Hall meeting to discuss how the Trenton community can combat hate speech. This cannot be the new normal.”
The charged atmosphere prompted the entire New Jersey Congressional delegation, including Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-4), Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-8), Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-1), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Rep. Andy Kim (NJ-3), Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ-7), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), and Rep. Jeff Van Drew (NJ-2), to specifically condemn anti-Semitic comments:
“Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world and right here in New Jersey. We must never accept bigotry or hatred in any form. We are calling on both the Trenton Councilman and Councilwoman to apologize immediately or resign.”