Each year on Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Ramadan month of fasting, 8,000 to 10,000 Muslims stream into the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring in shifts for special Eid services, followed by food, singing, dancing and henna decorating to celebrate one of Islam's most festive holidays.
The religious services are on for this year. But not the rest
"No celebrations, no festivities," said Rashid Makhdoom, who is on the center's board of directors. By uncomfortable coincidence, the holiday falls this year around Sept. 11 - for the first time since the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Eid, like other Muslim events, is calculated on a lunar calendar and occurs slightly earlier each year. This week, depending on when in August one started fasting, it is either on the 9th, 10th, or 11th. . .
In light of this, Muslim leaders say they fear that Eid celebrations could be misconstrued, mistakenly or deliberately.
"There are those who are promoting the idea that Muslims will be celebrating on 9/11 because that fits their hate-filled agenda," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. "If we hold a community bazaar or a family fun day, it'll be seized on by these people."
To forestall misunderstandings, the Council of Muslim Organizations in greater Washington has called on its 147 member groups to avoid holding Eid celebrations on Sept. 11, and Muslim leaders are encouraging congregants to explain to non-Muslim friends and neighbors that the convergence this year is mere coincidence. A few groups are also beefing up security for this year's event. (More)