Dillsburg couple facing animal cruelty charges

York's Muslims celebrate Eid

Sean Philip Cotter
  • Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, on Wednesday.
  • Several dozen non-Muslims turned up to stand with the worshipers.

On Wednesday, they no longer had to fast.

York's Muslim community celebrated Eid al-Fitr in Brookside Park in Dover Township on Wednesday morning.

Kwame McPhaul, one of the leaders at the Masjid at-Tawheed mosque at 549 W. Market St. in York City, was one of the main organizers of the event.

"Eid is a joyous occasion," he said.

Members of the Masjid at-Tawheed mosque in York City gather for prayer marking the end of Ramadan at Brookside Park in Dover, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

As McPhaul spoke, another man led those assembled in worship. Facing east, he delivered a melodic prayer in Arabic. Behind him, about 50 men knelt on a tarp, some with small rugs under them, all shoeless. Behind them, about the same number of women did the same; many of the women were clad in colorful garb, hijabs of bright greens, blues, oranges and more, while the men were largely in more muted colors.

McPhaul said the kids were all looking forward to this day, which was the first day after the month of Ramadan ended.

"It's sort of a counter to Christmas," he said with a chuckle.

During Ramadan, observing Muslims must fast from sunrise to sunset.

York community activists gather, at back, in support as members of Masjid Taw Heed gather for prayer marking the end of Ramadan at Brookside Park in Dover, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Ceremony: Standing in a hot morning sun, McPhaul wiped sweat from his glistening shaved head, turning back toward the ceremony for a minute. The speaker, standing in front of the worshipers, had switched to English, which he was using to deride the acts of terror Islamic State, the terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL.

"What Islam is this?" the speaker said. "What Islam is this?"

Someone who didn't want to give his name had quietly walked around a little bit earlier, handing out a few pamphlets. They featured headings such as "recognizing an extremist or one who is being groomed into violent extremism" and, more concisely, "How can we prevent young people from joining ISIS?"

McPhaul said that's one of the big misconceptions about Islam — that it's a religion of terror, and that many Muslims support organizations such as the Islamic State.

"They don't represent Islam in any way, shape or form," he said. "They're just using Islam as a front."

Rabiya Kahn, a local Muslim activist, told The York Dispatch after the ceremony that last year people driving by had shouted insults at the worshipers.

"It was nasty," she said.

From right, Stephanie Oelrich, Ophelia Chambliss, both of Manchester, Victoria Kageni-Woodard, Shannon High Patterson, and Kristin Cole, all of York City, gather with other community activists in support as members of York City mosque Masjid Taw Heed gather for prayer marking the end of Ramadan at Brookside Park in Dover, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Solidarity: Carla Christopher, a community organizer and activist around York City, this year heard about the Eid celebration — and about the people shouting at the Muslims last year. So she gathered together about 40 non-Muslims around the York area to stand in solidarity with those celebrating Eid. It ended up being more people than she expected.

"I'm pretty proud to be in York County today," she said.

At first, they planned on literally taking a stand — lining up along Fox Run Road between the people driving by and the worshipers. But then McPhaul told them that wouldn't be necessary.

"There's no need for that," he said. "Sticks and stones — that's all those words are."

He had people pull up chairs so the guests could watch and learn.

— Reach Sean Cotter atscotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.