WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden assured Muslims in his Eid message on Friday that his administration was committed to addressing Islamophobia as an ideology of hate.

“As we celebrate our blessings this Eid, let us also recommit ourselves to the timeless work of building peace and standing up for the rights and dignity of all people,” he said in a message released by the White House.

“My administration is also committed to addressing all forms of hate, including Islamophobia. This is why I established an inter-agency task force with senior government officials to tackle this and related challenges and encourage every American to build a more inclusive nation,” he added.

This year, the United Nations observed the first International Day to Combat Islamophobia on March 15. Since Pakistan had initiated the proposal, it was invited to chair the first observation at UN headquarters in New York.

March 15 was chosen as it is the anniversary of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, in which 51 people were killed.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, focused on remembering those who were away from their homes on Eid due to violence and persecution. “As we celebrate, let us not forget those who are unable to do so in the safety and comfort of their homes due to conflict, violence, persecution, or humanitarian crises,” he said in his Eid message.

He assured those separated from their loved ones on Eid that the United States would continue to work to reunite broken families. “The United States remains unwavering in its commitment to promoting peace, justice, and religious freedom for all. We wish you a blessed and joyful Eidul Fitr. Eid Mubarak,” he said.

President Biden said he was “moved by the generosity” shown during Ramazan and Eid when Muslims provide food and give charity to those in need. “We are proud to celebrate Eidul Fitr at the White House again this year to honour inspiring Muslim Americans who are making contributions across our country,” the US president said.

Racial diversity

According to the World Population Review, Islam is the third-largest religion in the United States after Christianity and Judaism. There are a total of 3.5 million Muslims in the United States, comprising about 1.1 percent of the total US population.

American Muslims are one of the most racially diverse religious groups in the US with no majority race, split as 25 percent black, 24 percent white, 18 percent Asian, 18 percent Arab, seven percent mixed race, and five percent Hispanic.

“I am glad that this Eid, I will not have to rush back to work after Eid prayers,” said Bushra Majeed, a high school teacher in Virginia’s Fairfax county, which recognised Eid this year as a school holiday.

“I will celebrate it with my family. Eid is now recognised in public schools in three Florida counties. The Miami-Dade county recognised Eidul Fitr in its 2023-24 school calendar as a teacher planning day in which no students will be in school.

Florida’s Palm Beach county approved academic calendars last summer that included days off in April 2024 and March 2025 to celebrate Eidul Fitr.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2023

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