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Illuminating Suburban Tensions: The Lighthouse and North Brunswick

Published on 28th February 2020

When the Lighthouse, a community cultural center, was first proposed to replace the abandoned Verizon building on 445 Georges Street in North Brunswick, New Jersey, it immediately encountered strong resistance from pockets of the local community. It was in this hostile environment that the project planners developed and promoted the identity of the Lighthouse. The drama over the establishment of the “North Brunswick Cultural Center,” as it is referred to in official documents, largely manifested itself in two forms: the advertising brochures that the Lighthouse distributed to local community members, and the zoning board hearings held to determine whether or not the project would be approved. It was in these conceptual and physical spaces—the brochures and the hearings—that the sociocultural and religious tensions produced by suburban demographic change manifested themselves. At stake in the debate over the Lighthouse was more than simply the approval or rejection of a new community center. Instead, it was a debate over the very meaning of “community” in a suburb, and a state, that had in the span of a few decades experienced radical changes in its demographic makeup. The establishment of the Lighthouse revealed the racial and religious tensions that exist not just in spite of, but often because of, suburban diversification.


The idea for the Lighthouse first emerged in 2011, when a handful of local Muslims affiliated with the central New Jersey chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS) bought an abandoned Verizon building.[1] The goal, at the time, was to establish a Muslim Youth Center in an area that had none. It would serve as both a recreational and religious center for the local Muslim community. The nickname given to this institution, “the Lighthouse,” indicated its religious origins: just as a lighthouse helps guide lost ships to their physical destinations, so too would the Lighthouse guide lost believers to their spiritual destinations. A few short months after the project developers purchased the building, however, the New Brunswick Islamic Center (formerly Masjid Al-Huda) relocated to 1330 Livingston Avenue in North Brunswick.[2] The sudden appearance of a nearby Islamic center may have contributed to the resistance that the Lighthouse encountered in its early stages. By the time the project planners secured a hearing at the township municipal building with the North Brunswick Zoning Board of Adjustment, the “Muslim Youth Center of New Jersey” had evolved to become the “North Brunswick Cultural Center.” The proposal to be debated at the municipal hearing went as follows:

RE: Block 188, Lot 6

445 Georges Road Site plan, use and bulk variances to an existing two story 37,100 sf building and construct a rear addition consisting of 20,432 sf recreation facility for use as a mixed use cultural center. Mixed uses proposed include worship rooms, cultural and religious offices, reading rooms, day care facility of 9,883 sf, a coffee shop, two retail shops and restaurant and several indoor recreational uses including basketball courts, squash courts, swimming pool, exercise rooms with bathrooms, showers and locker facilities. C-1 Neighborhood Commercial Zone [3]

Officially, the Lighthouse was no longer an Islamic center. Instead, it was a cultural center grounded in Islamic values but open for the entire community, much like the Young Christian Man’s Association. The only concrete marker of the institution’s Islamic character would be a small prayer space. It was the presence of that prayer space, and the Lighthouse’s dual pretentions to secular universalism and Islamic values, that would be contested at the courthouse hearings.

The hearings were held on two separate dates in 2016: the first on February 23, the second on June 7. Together, they totaled exactly 7 hours. The hearings were held in the North Brunswick Municipal Court and were open to the public, who were invited to watch the cultural center’s developers present their project to the zoning board and voice any questions or concerns they might have. Though the hearings never attracted a “crowd” in the literal sense of the term, they did draw a handful of fiery locals who made clear their opposition to the project. Across the two hearings, a total of 12 people came up to courthouse podium to express their thoughts on the Lighthouse. While this is a relatively small sample size, and therefore does not offer a totally scientific breakdown of local attitudes towards the project, it does provide a useful approximation. The local residents who came were not random individuals, but rather people who acted as mouthpieces for perspectives shared by, if not many, then at least some people.

Of the 12 who testified, four displayed hostile attitudes towards the project, three shared technical concerns about it but remained neutral, two expressed worries but struck an explicitly welcoming tone, and three uncritically endorsed it. Leaving aside those who voiced no opinion, whether directly or by insinuation, on the actual merits of the project itself, support and opposition to the Lighthouse broke down along racial and religious lines. All four who explicitly opposed the project were white, while all who uncritically supported it were Arab. The latter group was also entirely composed of Muslims, while the former were all non-Muslims (and at least partially Catholic). Captured in the racial and religious divergence between the project’s proponents and opponents were the tensions that have shaped and been shaped by demographic changes not just in North Brunswick, but in New Jersey suburbia more broadly.

For years, there has been a strong trend of minority suburbanization throughout New Jersey—particularly in Middlesex County, where North Brunswick is located. According to the 2010 US Census, the county’s Asian population doubled in between 2000 and 2010; Hispanics nearly became a majority in several cities, including in North Brunswick’s immediate neighbor New Brunswick. Between 2005 and 2015, more than 454,000 Hispanic residents and around 228,000 Asian residents migrated to New Jersey.[4] North Brunswick, as the third most diverse suburb in New Jersey, has been especially affected by these statewide shifts in racial demographics. Its whites have become a minority—36 percent against the combined total of 62 percent of Asians, Hispanics, and African Americans.[5]

North Brunswick’s racial diversity, however, does not reflect the homogeneity of its religious makeup. Although no religious statistics exist for the township, they can be approximated by taking those of its socially and geographically similar neighbor, New Brunswick. Of the 57 percent of people in New Brunswick who identify as religious, 42 percent are Catholic. Only about 2 percent are Muslims.[6] This is consistent with the Muslim percentage of the overall New Jersey population, which currently stands at a measly 3 percent. The Christian population currently holds at a dominating 67 percent.[7]

The controversy over the Lighthouse thus must be understood not only in racial but in religious terms. In this situation, the two overlapped: the locals opposed to the Lighthouse were both white and non-Muslim, while the majority who supported it were both non-white and Muslim. Such a neat racial and religious divide may be due, in part, to the fact that Muslims sit at a unique intersection of marginalized race and religion. Since most New Jersey (and American) Muslims are Black, Arab, or South Asian, Muslim settlement in the suburbs necessarily correlates with that of racial minorities; some of the many Asians moving to New Jersey suburbs, for example, are likely to be Muslim.[8] As such, white perceptions of Muslims, and subsequently whites anxieties pertaining to Muslims, are bound in both questions of race and religion. Racial anxieties can thus manifest as religious anxieties, both fueled by the ever-increasing minority suburbanization of New Jersey.

In the critiques of all four who opposed the project at the hearings, three of whom testified twice—Ann Hauer, Susan Sipolla, and Catherine Fenn—there arose a recurring motif grounded in religious anxieties: the fear that the Lighthouse was but a mosque disguised as a cultural center. Indeed, the thought that the project developers were being deliberately dishonest about their true motivations apparently fueled much of the bubbling anger displayed by these community members. “Is this a mosque, or is this a community cultural center?” asked Anthony J. Nastus, verbalizing the question undergirding much of the opposition’s resistance.[9] “It sounds like it’s really not a North Brunswick Cultural Center [but rather] the North Brunswick Islamic Center,” echoed Fenn. She clarified that she believed in inclusiveness, but that she also believed in honesty; without “smoke and mirrors,” she said, “everybody will be happier and get along a lot better.”[10] Implicit in this pronounced fear of the Lighthouse as a mosque-in-disguise was the narrative, popular on the American political right and often propagated by conservative outlets like Fox News, of “creeping sharia”: the gradual Islamization of the United States by shadowy Muslims intent on subverting American law, culture, and community.[11]

It was Hauer who most blatantly suggested that such a secretive subversion was at play with the Lighthouse. When her question as to the possibility of including a crucifix in the Lighthouse’s design was rejected because the community center was Islam-based, not ecumenical, she began to say, before a zoning board member interrupted her, that “in other words, it’s really a mosque, but they didn’t want to tell--”[12] The conspiratorial agenda suggested by “they didn’t want to tell” betrays her fears, seemingly shared by the project’s other critics, that the Lighthouse represented the Islamic invasion of “American” communities, played out in miniature in North Brunswick. Note how the notion of “creeping sharia,” conceptually and philosophically, echoes fears of minority suburbanization. Both presume the gradual infiltration of a “normal” space—typically one that is racially and religiously homogenous—by outsiders whose “different” characteristics will physically and culturally undermine the status quo. Crucial to this worldview is the expectation that the immigrant minorities will not assimilate into but rather overtake their new communities, contaminating or excluding the inhabitants who existed before.

It was this belief in the Lighthouse’s fundamentally exclusionary nature—a space that was reserved for one particular religious group—that informed the primary thrust of the opposition’s argument: specifically, that the Lighthouse’s inclusion of a Muslim prayer space, and its emphasis on Islamic values, disqualified it from any claims to communal inclusivity. Hauer, asking about the contents of the Lighthouse’s planned reading rooms for children, wondered if there would be “an equal amount of books from all religions.” She inquired about the inclusion of a crucifix using this same line of questioning.[13] Hauer, by asking these pointed questions, was attempting to persuade the zoning board that a true community center would place equal emphasis on every single faith represented in the community. Such an argument has deeper (and more disturbing) implications: that while there can exist a Christian-informed community program (the YMCA) or an all-inclusive Jewish center, no Islamic community center can exist without functioning as a mosque—an inherently exclusive space. Hauer’s stringent criteria for inclusivity—that the cultural center place Islam on a level playing field with every other religion in North Brunswick—effectively demanded the secularization of the Lighthouse, expunging it of its specifically Islamic character. The presence of such a blatant double standard (a Christian community center can be inclusive but not an Islamic one) suggested that to the Lighthouse’s detractors, Islam was essentially “other,” in a way could not be reconciled with the suburban neighborhood of North Brunswick.

That notion—that true inclusivity, and therefore communal acceptance, could only be bought about by secularizing and to an extent, “Westernizing” Islam—was actually manifested in the advertising brochures that the project planners distributed to the local community a few years prior to the hearings. The brochures featured computer-modeled images that purported to show a future Lighthouse open to all community members regardless of race, gender, and religion. Since these images were so consciously constructed, they provide valuable insight into the concerns of the project planners. The brochure’s images project a vision of Muslim integration into a quintessentially American suburb, optimistically uniting classical Islamic and suburban iconography and thereby suggesting that the two can peacefully co-exist. The existence of this agenda in a seemingly innocuous brochure betrays the broader sociopolitical anxieties of both its creators and its recipients.

The main image on the brochure (and the website) best embodies the Lighthouse’s unifying vision of serving local Muslim and non-Muslim communities in distinctly suburban locale. On the right hand-side is a two-story building with the nondescript architecture typical of public schools; in other words, a stock sight in a Northeastern American suburb. The left side of the image, meanwhile, features a mosque stylistically evocative of Islamic architecture, a sight more at home in the Middle East than the United States. Sitting as a linchpin between the two structures (and the two worlds) is a large glass box that doubles as an entrance. Its sleek design references the modernist architecture of the shopping mall—the defining social hub of the American suburb. This allusion is only made more explicit by the Lighthouse’s interior models (an example is available at the top of the Lighthouse’s website), which borrow the cubic shapes and minimalistic sleekness so integral to modernist architecture. In serving as an entrance to the mosque, the glass cube normalizes the prayer hall’s presence. It suggests that the mosque can be just as much of a suburban social hub as a shopping mall (and therefore just as unthreatening).

The autumn trees in the foreground and the evergreens in the background fulfill more than a decorative purpose—they clearly situate the Lighthouse in a suburban context. The clearness of the blue sky emphasizes the absence of the high-rise buildings typically associated with cities. The only structure that even partially obscures the view is a tree, not a skyscraper. The sleek white van in the bottom left corner performs the same function as the trees; it’s commonplace enough to resemble a wide range of automotive models, and yet is unique enough to recall the family vans one typically sees on suburban roads. Taken together, these elements give an overwhelming impression of familiarity to a specifically suburban audience, tempering the potentially alienating presence of Islamic architecture by nestling it in recognizable scenery. Note that this holds true for a typical American Muslim audience as well, who would be doubly comforted by the simultaneous presence of Islamic and suburban imagery.

The silhouettes, meanwhile, manage the impressive feat of being simultaneously nondescript and extremely specific, in part because they are so generic and therefore encourage the self-insertion of the viewer. On the one hand, the silhouette’s omission of clear racial and religious markers suggests the Lighthouse’s universal appeal. On the other hand, the silhouettes are well-shaped enough to imply two crucial facts about the people who will eventually walk the Lighthouse’s halls. Firstly, they will be modern Americans; the silhouettes’ sharply differentiated legs indicate that the people they represent are wearing pants or shorts, classical American fashion choices. Implicit in this sense of fashion is a rejection of the loose-fitting, leg-concealing clothing characteristic of traditional Islamic garb and still popular with many Muslim mosque-goers. The Muslims who come here, the image says, will dress identically to non-Muslims, rendering the two groups almost indistinguishable. This point is bolstered, again, by the total absence of religious markers, hijab or otherwise. The second crucial fact suggested by the silhouettes’ shape is age. Different silhouettes come in different heights, thus presenting a space accommodating of adults and children, and therefore of families as well. This helps establish a sense of communal intimacy even within the confines of a 3-D model occupied by anonymous figures.

Thus, by populating this imagined space with suggestive shadows rather than concrete representations, the project planners simultaneously propagate a vision of inclusivity (a place open to all) and exclusivity (a place aesthetically defined by American suburbia). This produces a Lighthouse that appeals to local American Muslims, who are themselves suburbanites, and placates non-Muslims, who may harbor fears that a new Islamic institution would disrupt rather than support suburban life.

The Lighthouse’s secular rebranding of itself in this manner extended beyond its brochures. While the Lighthouse was initially sold as a “Muslim Youth Center of New Jersey” (and legitimized via comparisons to the YMCA), it eventually adopted the more inclusive label of “North Brunswick Cultural Center.” The remnants of what the Lighthouse once was, however, are still scattered across the Internet. The building’s Facebook page, for example, says nothing about a cultural center, instead announcing at its top “The Lighthouse—Muslim Youth Center of New Jersey.” It is even tagged as a “religious center.” This Facebook page is a relic of the project’s earliest days; the page was first created in 2012 but registered little activity after mid-2013. Only in recent months have its Facebook posts resumed.[14] The uniquely Muslim perspective propagated by the Lighthouse’s old Facebook page clashes with the more secular universalism espoused by its newer official website. Thelighthousenj.org explains that the building is “a community center that will offer comprehensive and fully integrated programs to all community members with a special focus on the youth.” While the website does mention that the Lighthouse seeks to develop a program grounded in “Islamic values,” it is quick to assure readers that the center aims “to be a place where every community member belongs, and where every community need is addressed.”[15] The Lighthouse’s official website visually and conceptually demotes Islam to just one of many components within the center, instead of the overarching framework that it served under the project’s prior, more boldly religious model.

The Lighthouse’s brochures and renaming thus represented a form of mediation between a marginalized group’s attempt to expand its suburban footprint in and the preexisting locals who did not necessarily welcome such an expansion. By downplaying the religious character of the Lighthouse, and presenting Islam as fully compatible with American suburban life, the project’s developers and (mostly Muslim) supporters sought to present the project in terms that catered to the prejudices of its detractors, thus achieving the social acceptability critical to its survival. Hence the reason why every Muslim who spoke at the hearing cited strictly secular reasons for their support of the Lighthouse, reasons that shared common ground with a typical non-Muslim suburbanite.

Mamoun Sakar, a longtime North Brunswick resident, vaguely referred to the project’s “benefits” for his five sons. Ali, a resident of the township for 11 years, said that he believed the Lighthouse would be “good” because it would provide his sons with a nearby swimming pool. Dina Alabaddi, a woman who had only recently moved to North Brunswick, showed up at the hearing clad in a burka (and thus fully consistent in appearance with the prejudiced stereotypes of Muslim women likely shared by some of the Lighthouse’s opponents). When explaining how the Lighthouse would personally benefit her family, she said that she has often had to drive 15 miles or more to Piscataway or to South Jersey in order to find “youth activities” in which her teenage sons could participate, and that the presence of this center would alleviate that burden by finally providing a space for such “youth activities.” [16]

This statement, without any additional context, appears incomprehensible. North Brunswick itself is brimming with teenage-appropriate “youth activities,” from soccer clubs to karate dojos. What can Piscataway offer teenagers that new North Brunswick can’t? Alabaddi’s words might appear odd to most observers because she is using “youth activities” in a sense particular to Islamic culture in the United States. Piscataway and South Jersey have well-established Muslim youth centers in which Muslim teenagers can spend time together having fun (playing basketball, eating out) and strengthening their religious faith (spiritual gatherings, communal prayer). North Brunswick’s notable lack of such a space is part of why the Lighthouse, in its early stages, was marketed as the “Muslim Youth Center of New Jersey.” Though the Lighthouse has since become a cultural community center, clearly its religious component (the small prayer space) remained the primary source of its value to someone like Alabaddi. Her vague use of “youth activities,” however, betrayed her awareness that such outwardly religiously-inspired support for the project was unacceptable in the public sphere of the municipal building. To all the Muslims in the room that day, however, the subtext of her statements was as obvious as the simmering anger exhibited by the Lighthouse’s opposition.

Alabaddi’s resort to coded language underscored the privileged discursive position occupied by community center’s opponents. Whereas the Lighthouse’s detractors explicitly mentioned religion numerous times, the Muslims speakers did not do so even once. Their allusions to religion bolstered their arguments, while any Muslim attempt to do the same would have only confirmed the opposition’s central contention: that the Lighthouse was designed by Muslims for Muslims and no one else. By necessity of their minority status, Muslims had to avoid open embrace of their faith.

The zoning board itself demonstrated a keen awareness of the hearing’s sociocultural and political subtext by avoiding religious language themselves. At one point, Mark McGrath, the chairman of the zoning board, pushed back against Hauer’s attacks on the Lighthouse by clarifying that the building would be open to all people while still basing its programming “on Islamic fundamental-,” before abruptly changing the word mid-sentence to “views.” What happened here is obvious: McGrath first meant to say “fundamentals,” realized the unfortunate images associated with that word in the American cultural imagination (especially as it pertains to Islam), and so immediately switched to the less-politically charged “views” lest the opposition latch onto his slip of the tongue. This occurred again when Sipolla asked about the Islamic pre-dawn prayers (Fajr), which at the time of hearing occurred at 4:30am. Based on her earlier concerns that the Lighthouse would attract crowds and thus ruin her “quality of life” by disturbing the quietude of her neighborhood, Sipolla was likely about to cite the Fajr prayers as an unacceptable violation of the area’s peace. A member of the zoning board, perhaps sensing this, immediately downplayed the Fajr prayer. He noted with a chuckle that probably “only three people” show up to that, and then immediately asked the project developers to confirm that. In both of these instances, the zoning board anticipated potential worries about Islam and attempted to preempt them, typically by trivializing them.[17]

All of these attempts at mediation, however, from the brochures to the carefully worded comments, appeared to have ultimately made little difference. To the Lighthouse’s detractors, Islam was so “other” that its adherents constituted their own walled-off community, one necessarily separate from others. The Lighthouse, as an institution built by and for Muslims, physically manifested this isolation. Fenn rendered explicit this framing of the situation with a comment that deserves to be quoted in full: “We all know the demographics of the neighborhood that I live in, and I just question whether there will be people in my neighborhood served by this. I think it would be important to take a good look at the demographics of our neighborhood and understand whether you’re really serving us with this community center.” Hauer was even more direct: “I feel if you’re really serving the community, you’re serving a small percentage of the community, because [otherwise] you’d have other cultures involved with this.”[18] Fenn and Hauer, through this line of argument, constructed an atomized image of North Brunswick, where the “majority” was necessarily pitted against “the minority.” In this framing, different “demographics” had non-overlapping needs, and an institution that explicitly served one (Muslims) could not serve the rest (non-Muslims). Note how euphemistically the words “community” and “demographics” were deployed; they obscured the full meaning of the opposition’s argument. In effect, this obfuscating language enabled racially and religiously-charged arguments to transpire under a veneer of legitimacy.

Captured in the opposition’s fixation on the “minority” segments of North Brunswick’s population vis-à-vis its “majority” segments were the anxieties of longtime locals who had watched their community grow and change in ways that they feared, as Sipolla repeatedly said, would affect their “quality of life” (yet another term that, by virtue of its sheer vagueness, conceals any potentially xenophobic sentiment it implies). Sipolla herself had lived in the neighborhood for 32 years, while Fenn had for a decade. They could remember a time when North Brunswick was not as crowded—as evidenced by the heavy traffic in the area, which the opposition frequently cited—or, presumably, as diverse. The fact that Muslims barely represented 2 percent of the North Brunswick population was irrelevant. What seemed relevant was that a community center built by Muslims (who, as noted before, embody both racial and religious “otherness” from a white perspective) represented the latest manifestation of a trend of “foreign” invasion of New Jersey suburbs. Sipolla, reflecting on the potential overcrowding of her neighborhood due to the establishment of the Lighthouse, lamented, “What do I have to do, move so that I can have an enjoyable life?”[19]

Moving is indeed the solution for which many whites have opted. The combustible mixture of frustration and fear displayed by the Lighthouse’s most virulent opponents reflects that of many whites who have migrated out of New Jersey suburbia as it has diversified. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, more than 350,000 white residents (roughly six percent of New Jersey’s total population) left the state.[20] This mass exodus is newer variant of “white flight”: instead of whites fleeing the influx of minority settlement in cities, they are now fleeing minority settlement in suburbs. New Jersey, if current trends persist, will soon resemble California: a state that is minority-majority, in terms of racial distributions.[21] In the context of such fundamental demographic shifts, it is not surprising that the non-Muslim whites at the Lighthouse hearing would develop a somewhat reactionary conception of “community.” To them, North Brunswick Muslims were outsiders to their neighborhoods, encroaching on their space by building a massive Islamic center in its midst.

Fascinatingly, some of the Muslims present at the hearing appeared to consciously or unconsciously embrace the opposition’s quietly Islamophobic conceptualization of a “non-Muslim North Brunswick” community necessarily distinct from a “Muslim” community. When Alabaddi spoke at the courthouse’s podium, she concluded on a note of assurance that ironically only seemed to confirm the truth of the opposition’s Lighthouse-is-a-front-for-a-mosque narrative. Specifically, she said that she is sure that “our community” will comfort neighbors “very much,” because neighbors “have to come first in our beliefs.” Alabaddi, through this seemingly conciliatory gesture, essentially conceded to the opposition their two central arguments: one, that the Lighthouse was really not a North Brunswick community center but rather an Islamic community center, and two, that the Muslim population of North Brunswick existed in its own small sphere in contradistinction to the remainder of the suburb. Alabaddi may very well have internalized these assumptions beforehand, and they undergirded both her testimony in support of the Lighthouse and the opposition’s against it.

The zoning board did eventually approve the Lighthouse proposal, much to the chagrin of its detractors. A year since that approval, communal segregation appears to have remained as entrenched as ever. In particular, the local Muslim population appears to have ultimately embraced the same exclusivist understanding of “community” argued by the neighborhood’s non-Muslim residents. The Lighthouse’s Facebook page, now active for the first time in five years, recently registered three new five-star reviews. All three were written by Muslims. “This project has a very high potential to be the best Islamic facility in the east coast of [the] USA,” wrote Mahmoud Ali. Another, Quazi Ahmed, noted that his son had recently gone to the Lighthouse and was “very happy to have such a youth Muslim center in NJ.”[22]

The Lighthouse’s actual programming has done little to discourage this specifically Islamic perception of its function; since the center was approved, it has mostly hosted the daily Islamic prayers and special events particular to the Muslim community. To be fair, this is in part because the center’s construction has been mired its first developmental phase, so thus far only the mosque has been built and furnished. However, the Lighthouse’s lack of outreach to the local non-Muslim community has been striking, and has essentially rendered it the exclusivist space of which its detractors accused it. The Muslims who currently attend the Lighthouse have clearly understood the “community” in the center’s description to refer specifically to the “Muslim community.” Certainly the “About” section in the Lighthouse’s Facebook page appears to endorse this interpretation: “The Lighthouse is a brand new community center in the heart of New Jersey that strives to serve all walks of life and be an important resource for the ever-growing Muslim community.”[23]

The intra-suburban segregation evidenced by the persistence of this exclusionary mindset with both the Muslims and non-Muslims embroiled in the Lighthouse controversy suggests a sobering reality: suburban diversification does not necessarily mean suburban integration. This is the point made in a 2006 study conducted by the Institute of Race & Poverty, which found that suburbs often become geographically divided on a racial basis, as minority immigrants settle into ethnic enclaves rather than integrate into predominantly white neighborhoods. [24] As such, statistics illustrating the racial diversification of suburbs do not provide a complete picture of the reality on the ground. North Brunswick may be the third most diverse suburban town in New Jersey, but that does not imply that it is the third most tolerant. More so, it still remains mostly homogeneously Christian. The combination of these two factors in the case of North Brunswick’s Muslims—a racialized religious group—rendered the Lighthouse a revealing case-study of how intra-suburban racial and religious tensions manifest on the ground level. Ultimately, while the era of exclusively white and middle-class American suburbs has clearly ended, its demise has not necessarily ushered in the era of racial and religious harmony for which so many have hoped. 


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[1] "The Lighthouse - Muslim Youth Center of New Jersey." Facebook . Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheLighthouseNJ/about/?ref=page_internal.

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[3] User, CCP. "DPRCS Agenda, June 7 2016." North Brunswick Township. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.northbrunswicknj.gov/2016-boa-agendas.

[4] Carla Astudillo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. "4 big ways that New Jersey's demographics are changing." NJ.com. December 10, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/12/4_big_ways_that_new_jerseys_demographics_are_changing.html.

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[10] User, CCP. "DPRCS February 23 Zoning Board Meeting." North Brunswick Township. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.northbrunswicknj.gov/boa-022316-video.

[11] "Creeping Sharia." Creeping Sharia. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://creepingsharia.wordpress.com/.

[12] User, CCP. "DPRCS February 23 Zoning Board Meeting." North Brunswick Township. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.northbrunswicknj.gov/boa-022316-video.

[13] User, CCP. "DPRCS February 23 Zoning Board Meeting." North Brunswick Township. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.northbrunswicknj.gov/boa-022316-video.

[14] "The Lighthouse - Muslim Youth Center of New Jersey." Facebook . Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheLighthouseNJ/about/?ref=page_internal.

[15] The Lighthouse. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.thelighthousenj.com/.

[16] User, CCP. "DPRCS June 7 Zoning Board Meeting." North Brunswick Township. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.northbrunswicknj.gov/boa-060716-video.

[17] User, CCP. "DPRCS June 7 Zoning Board Meeting." North Brunswick Township. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.northbrunswicknj.gov/boa-060716-video.

[18] User, CCP. "DPRCS June 7 Zoning Board Meeting." North Brunswick Township. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.northbrunswicknj.gov/boa-060716-video.

[19] User, CCP. "DPRCS February 23 Zoning Board Meeting." North Brunswick Township. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.northbrunswicknj.gov/boa-022316-video.

[20] Carla Astudillo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. "4 big ways that New Jersey's demographics are changing." NJ.com. December 10, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/12/4_big_ways_that_new_jerseys_demographics_are_changing.html.

[21] PÉrez-peÑa, Richard. "New Jersey’s Ethnic Makeup Shifts, and Population Drifts Southward." The New York Times. February 03, 2011. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/04/nyregion/04jersey.html.

[22] "The Lighthouse - Muslim Youth Center of New Jersey." Facebook . Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheLighthouseNJ/about/?ref=page_internal.

[23] "The Lighthouse - Muslim Youth Center of New Jersey." Facebook . Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheLighthouseNJ/about/?ref=page_internal.

[24] Institute of Race and Poverty. “Minority Suburbanization, Stable Integration, and Economic Opportunity in Fifteen Metropolitan Regions”

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