U.S. Muslims relieved Eid holiday to fall day after September 11 anniversary

September 1, 2016 5:27 PM EDT

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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - For weeks, some U.S. Islamic leaders worried that the Eid al-Adha holiday would fall on Sept. 11, raising the possibility that some non-Muslims would misinterpret celebrations occurring on the solemn anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks of 2001.

Those fears dissipated on Thursday when Saudi Arabian religious authorities announced that the holiday would take place on Sept. 12.

"At least it doesn't give an excuse for the Islam haters to falsely claim that Muslims were celebrating on 9/11," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on Islamic Relations. "That was the concern."

Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice the life of his son for God. The timing of the holiday depends on when the new moon is seen at the start of the Dhu al-Hijjah month, according to the Islamic calendar.

CAIR and other Muslim groups have repeatedly expressed concern about a surge in hate crimes against Muslims in the wake of attacks by extremists in San Bernardino, California, Orlando, Florida, and elsewhere.

"The safety concerns are almost daily issues now," Hooper said, noting the recent killing of a New York imam and the stabbing of a Muslim woman in the city on Wednesday night.

The suspect in the imam slaying pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday to murder charges.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Dan Grebler)

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