Muslims of all backgrounds, whether Shia or Sunni, born in San Jose or Afghanistan, recent immigrants or recent converts, will put aside their differences to share the thrill of a good roller-coaster ride on Saturday.

More than 4,000 people are expected at the Great America amusement park for Muslim Unity Day, organizers said.

“There are no lectures,” said Asma Mangrio, who co-founded the event, now in its third year. “We just want everyone to have fun together.”

Mangrio, of Pakistani descent, grew up in Chicago where the annual family visit to an amusement park was the highlight of her holidays. When thinking of a way to connect Muslims divided by social, economic or sect differences, she fell back on those summer days with her family.

“We all pray the same way, eat halal food, greet each other the same way,” she said. “It’s important for us to see those similarities.”

In 2004, two of the largest Muslim organizations arranged for exclusive use of Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., for a day. Critics charged that not letting others in was discriminatory.

But Muslim Unity Day is kept open to all, since part of the purpose is to help others see Muslims in a positive light, said Mangrio.


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