Clifton man charged with bias crime for defacing ‘Allah’ in Paterson school sign | Paterson Times

Clifton man charged with bias crime for defacing ‘Allah’ in Paterson school sign


A bias intimidation charge has been filed against a Clifton man in connection with vandalism targeting the Dr. Hani Awadallah School in Paterson, according to New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

Mohamad Bekheet, 32, of Clifton, was charged with bias intimidation by the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Bias Crimes Unit on Friday. He is also charged with criminal mischief and harassment in connection with the incident that occurred during the early hours of April 10, 2023.

Bekheet is accused of putting what is believed to be feces on a sign at the elementary school. He did this to cover up the last five letters of Awadallah’s name, which spells “Allah,” the word for God in Islam.

Bekheet was charged through a complaint-summons after an investigation conducted by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Paterson Police Department, and the state’s Bias Crimes Unit.

“Bias crimes spread like cancer through a community, creating fear and distrust and undermining everyone’s sense of peace and security,” said Platkin in announcing the charges. “As bias and hate continue to rise in New Jersey, we must be vigilant in addressing these crimes immediately to hold perpetrators accountable and to send a clear message that they will not be tolerated in any capacity.”

New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) had called for a bias crime investigation after learning about the word “Allah” was defaced from the school’s sign.

“Vandalism motivated by prejudice or bias creates an atmosphere of intolerance and hostility that can lead to more serious crimes of violence,” said Pearl Minato, director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’re committed to working collaboratively to solve and aggressively prosecute bias crimes to protect our communities and to uphold the principles and values we hold dear in our state.”

Bekheet faces 18 months in state prison if convicted on the bias intimidation offense.

  • John

    These court systems should charge all attacks the same not based on what religion was attacked. Such as BLM attacks where many many died and billions in destruction but yet they were awarded monies for their violent agenda. Now for Jan 6 people that entered the capital by pushing and breaking windows yet they are receiving prison sentences upto 15 years. Double standard. Treat all evenly or don't treat at all.