PATERSON — A Clifton man is charged with bias intimidation for smearing feces across a public school sign, according to the state attorney general.

Twice last weekend, splatterings of feces appeared on the sign for the Dr. Hani Awadallah school in Paterson. The smears, which were done on April 7 and April 10, both only covered up the last five letters of Awadallah's last name.

Mohamad Bekheet, 32, was charged on Friday with bias intimidation, criminal mischief, and harassment, according to Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

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

“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," Platkin said.

The investigation came after CAIR-NJ demanded a hate crime probe into the incident. A spokesperson for the group said a suspect was in custody last Monday, the same day as the second incident, but charges were not announced until Friday.

Authorities did not give specific details regarding a motive. CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said that the suspect's social media included a photo of a desecrated Qur’an and a post calling Palestinians "misguided."

(NJOAG, Townsquare Media)
(NJOAG, Townsquare Media)

Platkin said that fourth-degree bias intimidation carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in state prison and a fine of $10,000.

Defense attorney information for Bekheet was not immediately available.

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