Current Affairs

Muslims make their mark on NJ politics

By Fatima Kermalli

Though Islam is a comprehensive religion that comprises of every aspect of human life, it is often forgotten the different involvements a person can engage in a non-Islamic society. Engaging in politics is one of those fields that Muslims in the West have often overlooked. Thus, when a Muslim strives to take a seat in office and serve the community, it is laudable.
In recent years, Muslims more and more are working towards making a difference on the political front.
In New Jersey alone, Muslim women have begun to make their mark. In the New Jersey Legislature, Democrat Sadaf Jaffer will become the first Asian American woman and the first Muslim to serve in office. While seniority has little importance in Trenton, Jaffer will take office just before two new assemblywomen from the 37th district. By tradition, freshmen lawmakers are sworn in in order of their districts – and in alphabetical order if an Assembly district has more than one new lawmaker.
Jaffer will take office just before Shaima Haider (D-Tenafly), who is a South Asian Muslim of Pakistani descent, and Ellen Park (D-Englewood Cliffs), who is Korean American.
Jaffer, who began as a college freshman at Georgetown during 9/11 to the nation’s first female Muslim mayor in 2019 in Mongomery—offers a useful road map of what has happened to Muslims in U.S. politics over the past two decades and, particularly, recently. She won the open seat in the 16th legislative district vacated by Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick). Zwicker, a three-term assemblyman, will be sworn into the State Senate today to replace Christopher Bateman (R-Branchburg). Bateman didn’t seek re-election after fourteen years in the Senate and fourteen in the Assembly. The legislature will get new leadership for the first time since 2012.

Therefore, with this election the beginning of 2022 looks promising for Muslim Americans in politics just as 2021 proved to be a successful for Muslims as well. The U.S. Senate had overwhelmingly confirmed the nation’s first Muslims as a federal district court judge and to chair the Federal Trade Commission. Legislatures in five states swore in their first Muslim members. And the list continues. These are just the beginnings of new faces shaping the face of politics in America.

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