State employee accused of pulling off Muslim woman's hijab

AP News
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Posted: Dec 21, 2016 1:35 PM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The mayor of New Jersey's largest city is calling for state officials to fire a Department of Labor employee accused of pulling a Muslim woman's hijab off her head and throwing it on the ground.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said the unidentified Employment Services worker mocked a woman's faith at the city's One-Stop Career Center on Dec. 5 before snatching her hijab.

Newark police arrested the employee and banned him from the business. They declined to identify the worker, but said he faces harassment charges.

Capt. Derek Glenn said the worker is a 67-year-old Brooklyn man. His name wasn't released due to retaliation concerns.

He has been suspended without pay, said Amanda Pisano, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The state agency is pursuing his termination in accordance with department policy.

But that's not enough, Baraka said.

The mayor believes prosecutors should've charged the man with a hate crime and has asked U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman to investigate the incident.

"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."

The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations also condemned the alleged incident, The Record reported.

"Unlawful, bigoted acts cannot be tolerated and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," the group's Executive Director James Sues said. "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."

Katherine Carter, the public information officer for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, said they concluded the incident wasn't criminal under state law.

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This story has been corrected to show the last name of Newark's mayor is Baraka, not Baracka.