LONG HILL – One of the state’s first Muslim police chiefs has announced that he plans to sue the community and some of its elected leaders, accusing them of harassment and a hostile work environment.
Ahmed Naga, 44, has served as Long Hill Police Chief since August 2018, having served as Acting Chief since February 2018. He worked his way up the ranks after joining the force in 2003 as a patrolman.
In his tort complaint, Naga said he had endured continuous and repeated harassment, discrimination and tightened controls.
When Naga attended a 9/11 memorial service last year, he said Deputy Mayor Guy Piserchia – who was mayor at the time – asked him if he was “a member of the Taliban”.
Months earlier, according to the illicit disclosure, Naga was at a meeting with Piserchia and local councilor Victor Verlezza when comments were made, including a reference to the Muslim holy month of worship, Ramadan, as “Ramadama dingon.”
Piserchia was accused of saying at the same meeting in April 2021: “Had I known you were a Muslim, I would never have promoted you.”
Naga also said that during a phone conversation in December last year, Verlezza called him a racial slur for people of Middle Eastern descent.
“Our client has been humiliated at work for a number of years simply because of his race/ethnic origin,” attorney Patrick Toscano said in a written statement sent to New Jersey 101.5 on Friday.
“His track record and record as police chief is nothing short of spotless and first class, but it is evident that certain leaders there in LHT are both xenophobic and unwilling to accept his religious beliefs – and that is unfortunate, childish and justly simple foolish, let alone shamelessly illegal,” Toscano said.
On Thursday, the New Jersey section of the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the anti-Muslim remarks that Naga said were directed at him, calling them “completely unacceptable.”
“Asking someone if they are part of the Taliban – no less at a 9/11 service – is not only insensitive but also a dangerous guiding question,” Selaedin Maksut, Executive Director of CAIR-NJ, said in a written press release.
Maksut urged current Long Hill Mayor Matthew Dorsi to support Naga, adding: “We also look forward to seeing how the litigation develops in the coming weeks and hope this sets a precedent for.” create anti-discrimination in the future.”
Another prominent Muslim law enforcement leader, Ibrahim Baycora, was appointed Paterson Police Chief two years after Naga in February 2020.
Baycora was fired last month by Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, who described him as “decoupled”.
In return, Baycora announced that he would sue the city for a hostile work environment. He has claimed Sayegh retaliated for raising concerns that other officers had filed false timesheets, among other internal affairs concerns.
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at [email protected]
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