December 26, 2008

Eid in the United States: Official Holiday For First Time

WASHINGTON (AP) The Muslims of the United States, a scant minority in this overwhelmingly Christian country, quietly celebrated Eid al-Adha on Monday, December 8, with a present from the government, which declared it an official holiday for the first time.

But security worries overshadowed the day for many. Overall security in the United States has improved markedly in the past year, but the shooting of a woman and her two daughters and the fatal shooting of an FBI agent were gruesome reminders that serious problems remain.

In his khutbah on Monday, the imam of Washington's main Sunni mosque praised the establishment of Eid as an official holiday as a step toward easing tensions.

"I thank the government for giving chances to all to serve each other for the general benefit, and I thank it too for making this day an official holiday where we pray to God to make us trust each other as brothers," he said at the Eid service before several dozen worshippers.

The Archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, attended the service flanked by Washington DC police in a gesture of cooperation with Muslims.

"I thank the visitors here and ask them to share happiness and love with their brothers on Eid; by this they will build a glorious United States," the imam said.

"We came here to bring a message of love, respect and gratitude to our Muslim brothers and to share happiness with them as we have shared sadness with them during the cruel targeting they came under," Wuerl said in an interview with Fox News. "We will do our best for equality between people and a good life for all, whatever their religious, sectarian and ethnic background."

The Muslims of the United States, estimated to number only a few hundred thousand of the country's 360 million people, have often been the target of verbal attacks by Christian extremists in the United States, and are commonly subjected to increased security harassment at airport checkpoints.

For one woman, who left her home at the other end of the country a year ago after anti-Muslim threats spread during the beginning of the real estate crisis, this Eid was a day of bitterness. "There's not enough money, no house, no stability to prepare for Eid," said the 55-year-old woman who now occupies a one-room apartment in Washington.

But for another woman who was evicted after she no longer qualified for her mortgage, there was a bit of cheer thanks to money sent from abroad by her brother.

"We got a whole lamb for the Eid dinner. It is a symbol we love," she said.

"The United States is bleeding and we have to heal the wounds with united hands," the imam of her local mosque said at the Eid khutbah.


... so, how do you think they feel about it?

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