Muslim Holy Day on Sept. 11? Coincidence Stirs Fears

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Source: The New York Times

By

Every year, Muslim leaders around the world look to the moon to predict the date for one of their most important holidays, Eid al-Adha — the feast of sacrifice.

When Habeeb Ahmed began about two months ago to plan for that holy day, he noticed a potentially fraught coincidence: Eid al-Adha could fall on Sept. 11.

“Some people might want to make something out of that,” said Mr. Ahmed, who was recently elected president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, adding that he could easily foresee how some might misunderstand the festivities, and say, “Look at these Muslims, they are celebrating 9/11.”

The potential for the holiday to fall on the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks has stirred apprehension among Muslims in New York City and across the country at a time when violent acts committed by religious extremists have provoked inflammatory political rhetoric and helped fuel a surge in hate crimes against Muslims.

In New York, the possibility of the holiday falling on Sept. 11 has intensified security concerns and fears already reverberating throughout the Muslim community after the killings of an imam and his assistant in Queens this month. For some, it also resurfaces memories of the backlash and the police surveillance directed at Muslims in the years after the attacks.

“Our community is like, ‘What are we supposed to do?’” Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said. She said she had sat through extensive meetings with other leaders grappling with the possibility and how best to prepare for it.

“I should not have to think about that,” Ms. Sarsour said. “What am I supposed to tell my kids?”

Eid al-Adha honors the willingness of Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of submission to God’s command. The holy day can also serve as an opportunity to honor the sacrifice of those who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, said Abdul Bhuiyan, the secretary-general of the Majlis Ashura, the Islamic Leadership Council of New York.

“It’s a day of remembrance and observance,” Mr. Bhuiyan said.

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