BOSTON – American Muslims in New England, Boston are inviting Malden community to know more about their faith, culture and traditions in a special festival planned next Sunday, hoping to create a greater awareness about Islam and counter some of the prevalent misconceptions.
“In the midst of the election season rhetoric, the tragic attacks in New York and New Jersey seemingly perpetrated by someone from a Muslim background, and instability in the Middle East, Muslims in the United States and in particular in New England believe that their culture and image have been distorted by politicians and the terrorists who do not represent the faith of the millions of Muslims worldwide,” festival director Mohammad Shadid said in a statement cited by Boston Globe on Tuesday, September 20.
Shadid is a trustee of the Outreach Community and Reform Center, which operated a mosque, an Islamic school, and a community center in Malden.
“That’s why we have organized the first Muslim Fest in New England to celebrate the rich cultural fabric of the American Muslim community,” Shadid said.
“Traditional Muslim hospitality will greet our guests that day.”
The New England Muslim Festival, planned on September 25, will he held from 11:30 am to 6 pm at Malden’s City Hall Plaza.
It will welcome people of all faiths for free.
In addition to its central location, Malden was chosen as the festival site because “it is a particularly diverse community,” said John Robbins, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who is assisting the event organizers.
The city’s population also reflects the diversity within the overall American Muslim community, noting the city is home to Muslims from “Morocco, Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, South America, Europe, all over the world.”
The festival will feature live performances of songs and folk dances, poetry, and rap music, and such children’s activities as a martial arts show, bouncy houses, and face painting.
There will also be a traditional “souk” marketplace with a wide array of arts, henna, Arabic calligraphy, cultural clothing, and international foods.
Referring to the welcoming nature of the city’s residents, Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis said no special security precautions are being taken for the festival.
“Police and city officials are working with the organizers of this event to provide a safe and pleasant environment in which people can come and assemble and enjoy the festivities in the spirit of the event,” Molis said.
“We’ve already had a tremendous dialogue and relationship with this growing aspect of our population,” he said of the Muslim community, “through their faith-based presence at the local mosque, seeing them in an around the community, and the businesses they own.”
“They are part of our community and as the Police Department it is our . . . purpose to make sure everyone is protected and free and that will be our purpose that day and every day.”
Calling Malden the most diverse community in the state, Molis added, “This weekend is part of that fabric.”
According to the US Census Bureau’s estimate for 2010 to 2014, over 42 percent of Malden’s 60,000 residents were foreign born.
“The city of Malden is proud of its diversity and is excited about the upcoming Muslim Festival,” Mayor Gary Christenson said in a statement.
“We are looking forward to this family event and in sharing the rich Muslim culture, customs, traditions, and my favorite, food!”