American Muslims Celebrate Ramadan

December 8, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On December 8, 2000, The Los Angeles Times reported that "an Islamic holiday display now shares a patch of grass in Mission Viejo with Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus, marking what Muslim leaders say is the first time in California that the holy month of Ramadan has received equal billing with Christmas on public space. The small billboard shows a photograph of the Kaaba--the central shrine of Islam in Mecca, Saudi Arabia--with a message: 'Season's Greetings.' A caption under the photo reads 'The First House of Worship on Earth.' Poinsettias and hay bales surround the exhibit. The religious decorations are part of a three-decade tradition in Mission Viejo in which the city allows Christians, Jews, and now Muslims to put up holiday images each December at the corner of La Paz Road and Chrisanta Drive, one of the town's gateways...'It's the holy month for everybody,' said Farid El-Kasm, a director with the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo. 'We wanted to share that.'...Leaders from the Mission Viejo mosque met with city officials and members of the Activities Committee, which oversees the holiday tradition...Martin Cohen, a rabbi in Mission Viejo, said he wouldn't have a problem with that. His concern is allowing religious displays of any kind on public property. 'Being an American, I believe in separation of church and state,' said Cohen of Congregation Eilat, a Conservative synagogue. 'I don't think there should be religious symbols in any public space. However, since no one in the world seems to agree with me, my second choice would be to have everyone participate. The more the merrier.'...According to the national Council of American-Islamic Relations, this is the first Muslim display in the state. Spokesman Hussam Ayloush said the only other one he knows of in the nation is a large crescent set up near the national Christmas tree in Washington."