Anti-Muslim Member Resigns from NJ Statewide School Board Association, Ends Re-Election Campaign

WASHINGTON, DC — The following is a statement issued today from Muslim Advocates Special Counsel for Anti-Muslim Bigotry Madihha Ahussain lauding the news that Daniel Leonard, a New Jersey school board member who posted a death wish on Rep. Rashida Tlaib, has resigned from the New Jersey School Boards Association Board of Directors. Muslim Advocates asked New Jersey families to call for Leonard’s removal from the board after the discovery of his violent, anti-Muslim posts on Facebook—including a post saying his “life would be complete” if Rep. Rashida Tlaib would die—and accusations that Rep. Ilhan Omar is a terrorist, among many others. The resignation comes at a time when dangerous, anti-Muslim bigotry is running rampant, as seen by an anti-Muslim gun shop in North Carolina hosting a billboard is encouraging gun violence against Reps. Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley:

“The resignation of Daniel Leonard from the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) Board of Directors is a welcome victory in our fight against hate and anti-Muslim bigotry. This could never have happened without the support of the New Jersey students, families, teachers, state officials and school board members who demanded that he be removed from this important body. Violent, dehumanizing, anti-Muslim rhetoric like the kind Leonard shared on Facebook threatens the safety of American Muslims, particularly children, and is wholly incompatible with the NJSBA’s mission to promote the achievement of ‘all students.’

We see anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigots in public office every day at Muslim Advocates and it’s all vile. However, wishing violence, death or assassination on a Muslim official crosses a line and that must not be ignored. These threats demand the kind of action we saw in New Jersey.

Of course, our work to challenge hate and bigotry is far from over. As long as Leonard still serves on the Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education, we fear that the school children in that district will be vulnerable to anti-Muslim bigotry, discrimination and threats. It is not enough that Leonard has said he won’t seek re-election. He must step down from the board immediately. Anyone who cultivates hate should not be working with school children in the Garden State.”

Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.