Islamic groups in the US have expressed concerns that the end of Ramadan overlapping this year with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, will lead to criticism that Muslims are celebrating the 2001 terrorist attacks, The Guardian reported Tuesday.
Since Islam follows a lunar calendar, the timing of Ramadan changes every year. This year Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the month of fasting falls on or around September 11. This has caused concern within Muslim groups in the US that hostility will increase towards Muslims.
Tensions are already running high in the US due to the plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero. On Friday night, President Barack Obama announced his strong support for planned mosque.
“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” said Obama. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are.”
Sarah Palin and former House speaker Newt Gingrich have voiced their opposition to the plan. Gingrich compared the planned mosque to "Nazis" erecting a sign next to the Washington Holocaust museum. Retired Brigadier General Dov Shefi, who lost his son in the 9/11 attacks recently told Arutz7 that establishing a mosque on Ground Zero is “like bringing a pig into the Holy Temple.”
Now, having the final day of Ramadan fall on September 11, might raise tensions even more. The Guardian reported that Americans Against Hate have accused organizers of one Ramadan event of "spitting in the face of Americans" since they scheduled activities for September 12. At the same time, the Islamic Circle of North America decided against holding its Muslim family day on September 11 out of respect for victims and families.
An ICNA spokesman, Naeem Baig, told The Guardian: “We took the decision not to have it on September 11 because it is not a day to celebrate. We will be mourning the deaths of all those who perished. We wish it to be as close to Eid as possible. But we don't want it on 9/11. That would be insensitive, we had to think of that."
Muslim groups have reportedly contacted police to alert them to the overlapping dates. Some groups are urging mosques to improve surveillance and security on their premises, especially during the final day of Ramadan.
"We always tell mosques to revise their security when Islamophobia is on the rise. We have a whole industry of people searching for any excuse to bash Islam and this is one of them," explained Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.Haroon Moghul, the director of an Islamic outreach body, wrote regarding Eid al-Fitr falling on September: “Many of our congregations were hurt that day, either personally or through the loss of loved ones. Many good friends of mine rushed to ground zero to give aid and spent hours, even days, doing what they could for the victims and for the brave first responders who were badly wounded.”