Muslims fear backlash as Eid festival set to fall on 9/11

A New York City police officer stands guard as Muslims pray during the Eid holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, July 6, 2016. © Stephanie Keith
American Muslims are bracing themselves for the possibility of the holy Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha falling on September 11 this year, which is also the 15th anniversary of the Al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Tensions remain high in the US, where Islamophobic sentiment continues to rise and the coincidence of the Eid festival, which is based on a lunar calendar cycle, with September 11 could lead to a backlash against the American-Muslim population.

While millions of Muslims across the globe will prepare to mark the ‘feast of sacrifice,’ community leaders have warned that people could misinterpret the festivities as a celebration of the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

Habeeb Ahmed, the president of the Islamic Center of Long Island told the New York Times that some could easily “misunderstand” the festivities and that people might say, “Look at these Muslims, they are celebrating 9/11.”

Since the Paris attacks in November last year followed by the San Bernardino shootings in December, researchers and civil rights groups say attacks and threats against Muslims have surged.

READ MORE: Anti-Muslim sentiment in US so high DOJ launches campaign against it

In New York, where an imam and his assistant were recently killed in Queens, the idea of the holiday falling on 9/11 has intensified security concerns for the city’s Muslim population.

Eid al-Adha marks the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael in an act of submission to God’s command.

Robert McCaw, the director of government affairs at the Council on American-Islamic Relations said, “it’s on the minds of every Muslim leader in the country right now.”

“We grieved like everyone else,” McCaw added, in reference to the 9/11 attacks. “We remember this day not because we’re Muslim, but because we’re American.”

Many people on Twitter have also given their views on how US presidential candidate Donald Trump might try to exploit the moment.