SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There was stepped-up security and extra patrols around Sacramento region mosques Sunday morning, as tens of thousands came out to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the ninth and most holy month of Islamic calendar, in which healthy, adult Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk.
Over 5,000 attended the Grand Eid Celebration at McClellan Park in Sacramento – host to one of the largest regional Eid events. But despite the colorful outfits and traditional dresses that symbolize the community’s diversity and the festive atmosphere filled with food stalls, clothing bazar and numerous activities for children, the smiles and laughter mask a growing Islamophobia and backlash against the local Muslim community.
On Saturday, a burned Quran stuffed with bacon was found handcuffed to fence at the Masjid An-Nur mosque in South Sacramento. On Friday, ripped-out pages of the Quran were thrown at the Davis mosque by a passing van. Both are being investigated as hate crimes.
There have been six hate crime incidents at locals mosque over the last six months, not to mention the anti-Shariah march from a few weeks ago. But those attacks aren’t deterring Muslim millennials.
“Islamophobia, even though it exists, our Muslims are still coming out, and we are not scared. We are taking a stand, and we are celebrating,” said Anoosh Ali, 17, a junior at Mira Loma High School, who attended the Grand Celebration at McClellan Park.
That message resonated across the community, as they came out by the thousands to celebrate the end of the month of Ramadan, against a backdrop of terror directed at them.
“I actually think that’s how our community has always been. The more battered we get, the more scratches we experience, people get stronger,” said Imam Azeez of the Tarbiya Institute, a local Muslim organization. Imam Azeez lead the congregational prayer.
Many young Muslims recognize that backlash stems in large part to terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam and how that contributes to the increasing pressure they face locally.
Yet despite that, many Muslim millennials refuse to be victims.
“There is a lot of discrimination going on, so I don’t want to point fingers and say, ‘Hey, we are the group being discriminated against,’ because a lot of groups are being discriminated against,” said Amir El-Badry, a young father, who grew up in Sacramento.
But despite the backlash, there are bright spots. In attendance at the Grand Eid Celebration was Hasan Minhaj, a comedian from Davis and a Muslim millennial, who has risen to international fame.
“Only in America can a first-generation, Indian American Muslim kid get on the stage and make fun of the president,” he joked as he hosted this year’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
That’s a message that’s not lost on this generation of aspiring young Muslim Americans.
“It was really nice to just see the community get together even after all that is happening. It’s nice that we are still able to stand on our own,” said Ali.