By BARBARA FERGUSON | ARAB NEWS
Aug 27, 2011 – WASHINGTON: In the US, the end of the holy month of Ramadan this year will be celebrated with three days of feasting and parties as throughout the Muslim world. But here in the US it will also have a shadow over it, this year the end of Ramadan concludes — an eerie coincidence — shortly before the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Fear and misunderstanding about Islam seems to have increased around the US since 9/11.
Many American Muslims say that practicing Islam after 9/11 has given them a feeling of intense scrutiny: remember the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic center and mosque near New York’s “ground zero”; the uproar over the Murfreesboro, Tennessee effort to build a mosque there; and right-wing hysteria over untrue allegations that American Muslims want to replace the US constitution with Shariah law (even if some did, it would be impossible, as Muslims just make up one to two percent of the US population).
“It’s a sad day for us as Americans and it’s a sad day for us as a nation and we don’t feel it would be right to celebrate on the anniversary of 9/11,” Abdou Kattih, vice president of the center’s board of directors, told reporters.
In lieu of celebrations, many mosques are planning open houses this weekend in hopes of strengthening ties to their communities, according to Naeem Baig, vice president for public affairs at the Islamic Circle of North America.
A Muslim coalition has announced a national day of service for Sept. 11, aimed largely at enhancing the image of American Muslims at a sensitive time.
“The anti-Muslim wave we are witnessing is really affecting the Muslim community,” Baig said. “Some fear violence against their Islamic center. Rather than be afraid, we’re encouraging them to be open and to let people come to their Islamic centers.”
“All eyes will be on us this Eid and on 9/11,” reads promotional material for the event. “…But can you imagine the power of a headline or TV news story that features American Muslims as citizens, giving back to our country?”
“On Sept. 11, let’s show that we can rise above prejudice and hatred and be the kind of conscientious citizens who give back to our country through a national ‘Muslim Serve’ campaign,” the materials continue.
The event also is being promoted by CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, among other organizations.
The Islamic Circle of North America is taking another approach.
Its members say they welcome curiosity and questions about Islam but wish folks would ask Muslims before jumping to conclusions or “absorbing knowledge from Fox News. We invite people to …ask us what our faith is about,” Asim Khan, The Islamic Circle of North America New Jersey chapter, told reporters. “There is a lot of curiosity about Islam, but also misinformation, uncertainty, and a sense of fear in approaching us.”
So, as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, ICNA says asking a Muslim about Islam is now as simple as making a phone call.
More than 50 billboards are going up on highways around the country from El Paso to Daytona, from Wichita to Albuquerque to New Jersey. The ads — which began appearing on the Aug. 1 start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — encourage anyone with questions about Islam to speak to those who experience the faith firsthand.
The 48-foot billboards tell drivers with questions about the religion to dial (877) 949-47526 — a 24/7 toll-free hotline sponsored by the ICNA.
Here, drivers may see billboards with a US flag and messages that read: “877-WhyIslam — Get the Facts.” Or: “Ramadan — 1.57 Billion Celebrating. Find Out Why.”
Article Courtesy: Arab News