SAN ANTONIO - Up to 3,000 Muslims from around the state are expected to converge Sunday on Six Flags Fiesta Texas for "Muslim Family Day" to celebrate the end of Ramadan and spread the post-9/11 message that most Muslims are peaceful and mainstream.
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 public that day as scheduled, a spokeswoman said. She stressed that the event is not sponsored by Six Flags.
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 as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 nears.
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.
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."
The event 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."
September 03, 2011, Chron