The Israeli forces denying the Palestinians worshiping at Al-Aqsa Mosque; they assaulted Christian worshipers during the siege of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem a few years ago. Palestinians will give up their lives to pray in their holy sites. The only democracy in the middle east is using its military to prevent Palestinians’ fundamental human rights, the right to worship. However, this is not a religious conflict; it is a conflict over land taken away by the Zionist project in the 1967 war. “They don’t want Arabs here or across East Jerusalem,” said Abdelfatah Skafi, 71, one of the Palestinians facing eviction, during a protest this week. “They want to expel the Arabs, and that way, they will be able to surround the Old City,” reported the Times. A few rockets from Gaza changed the headlines and a full-out war of destruction on Gaza. This all is taking place as millions of Muslims around the world are gearing up to celebrate Eid el-Fitr this week, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. And nothing would bring Muslims together like the Eid-el Fitr celebration. In my 40 years in America, Muslims enjoyed their first amendment right, prayed everywhere and anywhere, in Churches behind next to the cross and Jesus statue, at the university cafeteria, at the high school arena by a swimming pool, where young swimmers wondered about the overdressed visitors. We celebrated in parks and Blain National Sports Center. Celebrated Eid in River Place Center in St. Paul during a dog show, where owners with their well-behaved leashed dogs entangled with the un-leached joyous children running everywhere. Celebrated Eid at MPLS Convention Center, where a wedding gowns trade show was taking place; the scantily clad models walked side by side with hijab and fully covered Muslim women undisturbed. We celebrated Eid at baseball and football fields at tennis and basketball courts. Nothing will stop Muslims from having their festival day of joy and families gathering anywhere when it comes to the Eid celebration. However, Mall of America of all places has become the place of choice for Muslims in Minnesota. Mall of America, the consumers’ cathedral, the shopping Mecca of the world, where millions visit to worship their cultural icons, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Liz Claiborne. At MOA, where Victoria’s Secret’s flashing its secret for everyone to see. Several Somali women watch nervously as their kids vanish into the maze of Macedonia in the indoor playground. A group of Syrians enjoys a rare peaceful moment by the indoor garden, while not too far away are some Somali men kneeling down in the corner, getting ready for the noon prayer. Next to them are a cluster of young Pakistani men listening to their iPods and comparing the latest features on their iPhone. A few Saudi visitors are standing by the palm trees wondering about the new pilgrimages coming to the mall. By the Café, some West African Muslims in their crisp white robes and hats seem oblivious to the strange artificial noises coming from the tropical-themed restaurant.
On the rollercoaster Muslim boys ride with Muslim girls, who laugh as their hijabs fly over their faces above their unconcerned parents. In the middle of the mall, a few Muslim women, cloaked with their traditional black dress Burks are walking slowly together, their black unified bodies eclipse the front window of Victoria’s Secret: they are seemingly unmoved by the displays of women in skimpy lingerie. Thousands of Muslims of all ethnicities, nationalities, races, and creeds go to celebrate their traditions, customs and express their Islamic and cultural identities. Children are running, playing games, taking rides under the gaze of their concerned parents! There are no cultural idols to worship except their god, no shopping bags to carry, just their kids, no fashion trends to follow, only their traditions. Every year, thousands of American Muslims turn the biggest shopping mall in America into a non-shopping mall, if only for one day. Last week Governor Walz announced the COVID-19 public gathering protocol; we still not out of the woods yet, and enforcing a gradual lift on public gathering and activities, places of worship are open but in limited capacities. Governor Walz said a full lift would be at the end of May, which unfortunately will be after Eid this week. I believe that was not intended to spoil Eid celebrations. A few years ago, I met Mr. Walz during Walz campaigning for the governorship during the Super Eid celebration at the USBank Stadium, he was the most pleasant man I met that day. The pandemic is still looming over, gathering in public places is still restricted, we still have to wear masks and keep our social distancing indoors. This year Eid el-fitr celebration will be held mainly at homes among vaccinated friends and families. Where outdoor Eid celebrations will be limited, wearing masks and social distancing will make it hard for hugging or kissing, and Eid greetings will be shouted from 12 feet! Happy Eid, everyone!
Arab American TV Show
BelAhdan With Ahmed
Blogs at Notes From America
Lives in Minnetonka, MN. USA