CAIRO – Spreading joy and happiness in the air, a leading US Muslim group is getting ready for `Eid Al-Fitr celebrations with its annual Muslim family day in Texas, amid growing fears of growing anti-mosques attacks across the United States.
“If you've ever been to the Middle East during `Eid, places like Fiesta Texas get swamped during `Eid time,” Aiman Saleh of the local chapter of the Muslim American Society, which sponsors the Six Flags event, told The San Antonio Express-News.
“This is something we already do.”
Held under the title, Muslim Family Day, the celebration would be held at Six Flags Fiesta Texas on August 25 to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Coming in its third year at the amusement park, `Eid celebrations are expected to attract up to 400 people for an event.
Other `Eid events are planned at other public places as Incredible Pizza and La Villita.
“`Eid has Muslims gathering at restaurants and watching movies and just being everywhere with friends and family,” said Narjis Pierre of the San Antonio Muslim Women's Association.
Pierre will be attending the `Eid festival Aug. 26 at Maverick Plaza in La Villita.
Sponsored by the Muslim Cultural Heritage Society, it takes place in downtown to allow tourists and residents to learn more about the Muslim community, organizers said.
“It is very open, and people walk through and are very curious because they see something that is very different,” Pierre added.
`Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.
US Muslims along with the majority of Muslim countries will celebrate the feast on Sunday, August 19, marking the end of the holy fasting month.
During `Eid days, families and friends exchange visits to express well wishes and children, wearing new clothes bought especially for `Eid, enjoy going out in parks and open fields.
After special prayers to mark `Eid Al-Fitr, festivities and merriment start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.
Traditionally, everyone wears new clothes for `Eid, and the children look forward to gifts and the traditional `ediya (cash).
Holding `Eid celebrations in open air, organizers invite non-Muslims to share Muslims in their `Eid festivities.
“We've learned our lesson the hard way ever since 9-11,” said Saleh of the local chapter of the Muslim American Society.
“We felt the heat as Muslims.”
American Muslims, estimated between seven to eight million, have been facing growing antagonism since the 9/11 attacks.
Concerns maximized following attacks on seven US mosques in the last two weeks, including three attacks last weekend.
The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago has sent a memo to its 63 mosques and organizations, advising them to create safety committees as well as emergency and evacuation plans to be distributed to members.
Similar calls were urged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington D.C. which issued a safety advisory on August 6.
Opening doors and hearts to non-Muslims to spread correct ideas about Islam, the setting of Six Flags helps promote the idea of tolerance.
“We need to open the doors to invite non-Muslims in and let them know we are not what you think we are,” Saleh said.
“We are human beings just like you. We are Americans just like you.”
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