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Muslim Americans face potential PR nightmare

Eid may fall on September 11th this year, presenting a delicate problem of perceptions and possible offense on one of the most sensitive dates on the American calendar.

Muslims in North America and in particular the United States are facing a potential public relations nightmare as the holy month of Ramadan is scheduled to end on or around September 11th.

Ramadan is a month long period of fasting which culminates in the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, a day comparative in its significance and festivities to Christmas Day or New Year in the western world.

This day, commonly referred to simply as ‘Eid’ will fall on either September 9th, 10th or 11th, depending on the position of the moon.

Muslim leaders in the United States are worried that the latter date may cause offense as some may misinterpret the ancient celebrations as being directed at the 9/11 attacks.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group is therefore contacting national and local law enforcement and the Justice Department’s civil rights division to warn them of the potential alignment in dates.

Since the 9/11 attacks, Muslims have become increasingly ostracized in the United States, with many mosques and Islamic Centers that were established long before the terror attacks in New York, faced with opposition from their communities.

Some reports suggest that Muslim leaders in the US have been concerned with the possible date of Eid for many months and have been meeting to decide how to handle the public relations quagmire and celebrate Eid in an “appropriate” manner.

The focus has been on showing non-Muslim Americans that the celebrations are not to mark the attacks on the World Trade Center, but rather to mark the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting to attain religious purity.

The day on which Eid will fall has been sensitive this year because the month of Ramadan moves backward by about a week each year.

The coincidence of the dates has been a heated topic on message boards with some Americans pointing out that it is due to the generosity of their laws that Muslims will be allowed to gather and pray on Eid.

“If we were any other people, they wouldn’t be allowed to gather, but they see that as our weakness,” (sic) one commenter wrote.

However, Muslim gatherings will be allowed in most countries across the world on the day.

Big News Network.com     Saturday 14th August, 2010

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