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03 September 2011

Six Flags Fiesta Texas to host Muslim Day

mediaManager.jpgCelebration to send peaceful message.

Up to 3,000 Muslims from around the state are expected to converge Sunday on Six Flags Fiesta Texas for “Muslim Family Day.”

The event is designed to celebrate Ramadan’s conclusion and spread the post-9-11 message that most Muslims are peaceful and mainstream.

It is probably the largest Muslim-themed event ever held at Fiesta Texas, a development hailed as significant by local Muslim and interfaith leaders as the 10th anniversary of 9-11 nears.

Families from as far as Corpus Christi, Austin and Waco have committed to attending the event, sponsored by local chapters of the Muslim American Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Fiesta Texas will be open to the general public that day as scheduled, a local park spokeswoman said. She stressed that the event is not sponsored by Six Flags but reflects the park’s routine practice of booking events for assorted religious, charitable and corporate groups.

According to the arrangement, the two groups are selling discounted tickets and parking passes for an event that aims to give Muslim families a festive way to mark Ramadan’s end while sharing their culture and challenging stereotypes.

The Fiesta Texas event will cater to Muslims with children, organizers said. It coincides with another large Eid event at La Villita’s Maverick Park, sponsored by the Muslim Cultural Heritage Society.

At Fiesta Texas, Muslims will gather at the park’s Picnic Grove, which has an open lawn and pavilions. Activities will include Muslim prayers, entertainment, socializing and meals in keeping with the faith’s dietary laws.

The public is welcome to buy meal tickets for international cuisine from local Muslim restaurateurs, event planners said.

Last year, the Muslim American Society sponsored what it said was the first Muslim-themed event at Fiesta Texas, attracting about 400 people, said local MAS public relations director Said Motawea.

The interaction with the general public at a popular, high-traffic amusement park will go far in reducing anxieties between Muslims and the larger community, said Sarwat Husain, CAIR’s local president.

“It’s our community, too, and we are mainstream just like anybody else,” she said. “It’s also giving a boost to the Muslims for what they have been going through. The 10th anniversary of 9-11 is coming up, and already there is much fear going on. We have to get out of that. It’s been 10 years.”

Husain praised Fiesta Texas for allowing an event styled after ones organized at other Six Flags parks by the Islamic Circle of North America. In Dallas, Six Flags has been reserved the entire day for the Muslim community.

Husain said a local Six Flags saleswoman emailed her with a proposal for CAIR to reserve Fiesta Texas for the entire day, but she wanted local Muslims to interact with the general public.

“Six Flags does this all over the U.S., and they offered to us that if we wanted to reserve the entire park, we can,” Husain said. “We told them it is a celebration, and we want to celebrate with all Americans.”

Local park spokeswoman Sydne Purvis said CAIR took the first step and came up with the event’s name.

CAIR “reached out to us and wanted to have their group outing here,” Purvis said. “We have a very large sales staff and work with organizations and charities every single day. ... It is not a Six Flags-sponsored event. We are providing a venue, and this is their outing.”

However the event came about, it reflects the gradual acceptance of local Muslims, said the Rev. Paul Ziese, a Lutheran minister active in interfaith work and past board president of the San Antonio Community of Congregations.

“I know for years many amusement parks have had special events for Christmas and other Christian holidays,” he said. “I think it’s appropriate that a Muslim event be recognized. Muslims still feel a little bit on the fringe even though many groups are starting to welcome them.”

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/religion/article/Muslims...

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