Muslims Celebrate Eid in US Amid Controversies
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Photo: VOA - N. Colombant
Eid festivities like here at the Islamic Center of Washington have been scaled back this year, 11 Sep 2010
Muslims in the United States are celebrating Eid-al-Fitr amid several controversies, including a week-long saga involving threats by an American pastor to burn Qurans. Festivities also overlapped with the 9th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists.
Saturday, Muslims across the United States took part in volunteer service and attended interfaith discussions about the meaning of September the 11th, before returning to gatherings in their hometowns with their families, as is the tradition.
Eid marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and usually involves big parties.
But many Islamic centers in the United States scaled down festivities on the day of the September the 11th anniversary.
Imam Ben Abdul-Haqq from Washington saw the coincidence of dates as an opportunity.
"The reality is some Muslims are uneasy but I believe that that is God's will. I really believe that some of us feel, Muslims and non-Muslims, because I have talked to some of my non-Muslim friends, and they feel that what is happening with all these situations, the mosque in New York situation, the Florida situation with Pastor [Terry] Jones all of these things, if we continue to take them with the right spirit, it will bring us closer and make us more sensitive," he said.
He also called on those supporting the Reverend Jones' now dropped plans to burn Qurans in Florida and those opposed to the proposal for a mosque near the site of the terrorist attacks in New York to better understand Islam.
"Those individuals have to come to understand what Islam is about, and understand that Islam is not anti-American, to be Muslim is not anti-American," said Imam Ben Abdul-Haqq.
Ide Bilo, a nursing student from Niger at the University of the District of Columbia, said he felt Islam was being manipulated by many American politicians before important congressional elections in November.
"These topics are hot topics here, topics that some politicians use to get people to vote for them," said Bilo. "Because of all the terrorist actions that are going on in the world, the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, all these issues come together, because Islam is misunderstood, and most Americans do not even have a Muslim friend, most of them they do not understand Islam."
He said it was also up to him and other Muslims to reach out and better educate Americans to show them Islam is a religion of peace, and not the religion of terrorism.
After Saturday, Eid-related events will pick up again, with several Islamic centers organizing unity walks as well as family celebrations, but many of these events will be held at locations other than mosques.