Feces were smeared on a public school sign twice in four days

The smear only covered the letters forming 'Allah,' the Arabic word for God

An Islamic advocacy group demands a hate crime investigation for the vandalism

PATERSON — The Council on American-Islamic Relations of New Jersey wants an immediate hate crime investigation after feces were smeared over a public school sign twice in four days.

Named for the late Dr. Hani Awadallah, the Paterson school for Pre-K through eighth-grade students is near the Marshall and Hazel Streets intersection. Its namesake was a local educator and advocate for Arab Americans and Palestinians.

On Friday, smears of an "unknown dark substance" appeared on the school's sign, according to CAIR-NJ. A vandal had covered up a section of Awadallah's last name forming the word "Allah." On Monday, a man was spotted again smearing the name. CAIR-NJ identified the substance as feces.

Vandalized Paterson school sign on 4/7/23. (CAIR-NJ)
Vandalized Paterson school sign on 4/7/23. (CAIR-NJ)

Dina Sayedahmed, spokesperson for CAIR-NJ, told New Jersey 101.5 that officials had confirmed to the organization that a suspect was in custody Monday. However, the group could not name the individual as charges had not yet been filed.

Executive Director Selaedin Maksut called for an immediate hate crime investigation into the smearings.

“While we are still learning the facts of the incidents, we have reason to believe that the suspect acted on an anti-Muslim impulse due to his social media postings, in which he posted the defecated sign as well as a desecrated Qur’an," Maksut said.

Attorney General Matthew Platkin told New Jersey 101.5 in a statement Tuesday that the Division of Criminal Justice Bias Crimes Unit is working with the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office to investigate the matter.

"Dr. Awadallah was an ardent advocate for the Arab-Americans who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of children and immigrants," Platkin said. "He was passionate about ensuring equity among students. He left his city of Paterson, and all of New Jersey, a proud legacy that we will work to honor and protect."

New Jersey 101.5 has reached out to the PCPO for comment.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

LOOK: 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the US

From secret gardens to underground caves, Stacker compiled a list of 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the United States using travel guides, news articles, and company websites.

Biggest NJ company layoff notices in 2022 and 2023

In some cases, workers may be offered back their jobs or transfers to different locations. 

Here’s a look at more than a dozen of the biggest announcements within two years.

Up or down? Average property tax changes in NJ in 2022

Below are the average property tax bills for every municipality in New Jersey last year.

The towns are listed from the biggest cut in the average bill to the highest increase. On the county maps, the deeper red color means a higher increase above 2% whereas the darker green signifies a smaller increase or a reduction.

Each listing also shows how the average tax bill is split among the county, school and municipal governments.

More From SoJO 104.9 FM