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‘Super Eid’ organizers expect thousands at U.S. Bank Stadium celebration

August 20, 2018

U.S. Bank Stadium will host thousands on Tuesday for prayer and festivities at this year’s Eid al-Adha gathering in Minneapolis that organizers are calling “Super Eid.”

The Muslim holiday, which honors Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God, has been an occasion for public celebration in the Twin Cities for more than a decade, often at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This year is the first time the event is being held at the stadium, and organizers have made an effort to include more mosques and Muslim communities while also inviting Minnesotans of all religions and cultures.

“This is a day we all celebrate and we all, as a family, come together,” said Mohamed Omar, one of the event’s organizers.

The event begins at 7 a.m. and will include prayer services on the field in the morning, followed by speeches and additional prayers inside the stadium — and anyone is invited to come watch from the stadium’s seats. As of Monday morning, 23,000 people had registered for the free event.

Outside, a carnival at the Commons park will have food, a petting zoo, a zipline and other activities until 7 p.m. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the event.

Organizers said the goal of an Eid festival is to bring together the community in unity, prayer and celebration. They moved to the Vikings’ home stadium this year because it was available as a large public space.

“This has a lot to do with the fact that are community is maturing and growing,” said Imam Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota.

Other cities like Chicago offer their sports stadiums to Eid celebrations, Zaman said. Given the large crowd expected, organizers encouraged participants to take transit or allow extra time for driving and parking.

Organizers on Monday also addressed criticism of the event and outrage from some on social media who spread misinformation, particularly about the tradition of animal sacrifice. Zaman said animals will not be sacrificed at the stadium.

The holiday honors the Prophet Ibrahim, also known as Abraham in Judaism and Christianity, and comes at the end of annual Hajj pilgrimage. It is one of the holiest holidays of the year for Muslims, who celebrate with prayer, shared meals and gifts. In some places, families who can afford it slaughter an animal and share the meat with family and charities.

In the case of Tuesday’s celebration at the stadium, vendors will be selling food.

“Eid is for everyone,” Zaman said. “We are inviting our interfaith allies to join us. You don’t have to be Muslim to have fun. Just have fun.”

Still, they expect a protest outside the event, and a counterprotest showing solidarity with the Minnesota Muslim community.

Stadium security personnel will be on-site as they are with any large-scale event and there is no imminent threat, Omar said.

Michael Vekich, chairman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said safety is the organization’s primary priority but wouldn’t comment on specific security measures for Tuesday’s event.

“We carefully evaluate each event and provide security as appropriate,” he said.

Rev. JaNaé Bates, spokeswoman for the interfaith group ISAIAH, said she hopes the event shows Minnesotans truly embrace the state’s diverse, evolving communities.

“We can come together in unity,” she said. “We can come together cross culturally and learn about each other’s faith.”

The country is rife with hateful division, said Abdullahi Farah, executive director of the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center in the Phillips neighborhood.

This event creates an opportunity to bridge those gap “because as Minnesotans I believe these are some of the values we share,” he said, “helping each other as neighbors and actually coming together to share times of celebration.”

Chris Bowling • 612-673-4434

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