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11 Aug, 2010 20:38

Ramadan kicks off amid rise in Islamophobia

It is just another day of the week for most us, but for Muslims worldwide, it’s the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Affairs explained, “Fasting during Ramadan teaches you generosity, because in our ordinary lives, we often go for a long time without feeling thirst or hunger, so it helps us understand the suffering of those who do feel it.”

I am here to buy meat for when we break our fast,” said a Somali Muslim man.

Ramadan essentials like dates are selling out at the El Amana supermarket in Northern Virginia where Muslim Americans have flocked to buy traditional foods and Middle Eastern goods imported for the holy month. One of the most important foods is Halal meat, which had almost been cleared off the shelves by shoppers. People are obviously preparing for the breaking of the fast.

But it is not easy for Muslims in America, says Egyptian born Abbas Kandr

Ramadan for us here is like a celebration but it’s also very different, it’s not the same like it is in Egypt,” said Kandr.

The Islamic holy month falls during a sensitive time for Muslims in America. The uproar over the building of an Islamic center near ground zero has contributed to a rise in Islamophobia nationwide.

We have had cases where extremist groups have been told to lay hands on mosques or to harass worshipers during Ramadan. We have seen a number of cases where worshippers have been harassed,” said Hooper.

Pamela Gellar of Stop Islamization of America said, “The Muslims Terrorists that brought down the towers and the pentagon and were going to take out the White House were inspired by Jihad.”

In response to Gellar, Ibrahim said, “Those who harbored anti Muslim feelings in the past, sometimes kept them to themselves, now with the tea party movement, there is some kind of legitimacy for them to voice their feelings and that is a very disturbing trend.”

One man outside the White House told RT, “After slavery, Americans were very racist, now its Islam’s turn.”

Back at Al Amana, the anti-Islam campaigns and actions around the country are not bothering these Muslims. The only thing on their mind is family, food and gearing for the first day of the most sacred month of the year.