SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Thousands of Sacramento-area Muslims gathered Friday morning to celebrate Eid-Ul-Adha, the most important Islamic holiday of the year. The celebration marks the end of the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
One of the largest events was held in Sacramento where more than 5,000 people attended a sermon delivered inside the auditorium at the Jackson Sports Academy. It was followed by a day of food, fun and festivities.
Like most families gathering for a holiday, the Rashid family, who live in Natomas, struggled to get Eid prayers on time.
“It starts like a circus!” laughed Manaza Rashid, who came with her family. “We get up early, but it is still crazy. Somebody is cooking, someone is looking for their clothes, grandma needs this, kids need that, and we go to hustle to over here and make sure we get here on time.”
Despite the morning madness, she says Eid is an important time for her and her family.
“Eid brings everybody out! We are really happy to be out celebrating. It’s a big day for us,” she said.
But this year, the family photos and selfies are being taken midst a more sober backdrop: the increase in hate crimes targeted specifically at American Muslims.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of the nation’s leading Muslim civil rights organizations, released its annual civil rights report for California. It shows that hate crimes and hate incidents against American Muslims are up, especially here in Sacramento.
According to their findings, they were 1,239 incidents reported in 2016 here in California — a 10 percent increase from 2015.
In California, most of the complaints center around issues of immigration and interaction with law enforcement, followed by the increase in hate crimes.
In Sacramento, there were 79 incidents reported. That's in addition to several recent incidents including hate letters sent to mosques in Davis and Stockton, as well as mosques that were vandalized in Sacramento, Roseville and Davis.
And while Sacramento experienced an overall drop, there was an increase in hate incidents. They attribute some of that to policies coming out the White House.
“Words do matter. The president of the United States needs to be more tactful, more careful, about the words he chooses and also the policies. The policies that you institute, that you implement, have a direct impact on the community,” explained Basim ElKarra, the executive director for the Sacramento chapter of CAIR.
“It’s really sad to see this in this day and age. Especially with how far we have come in our history,” said Bilal Khan, who was born and raised in the U.S. to Pakistani immigrants. He and his wife came down from Chico to celebrate with family who live in the area.
Khan says he is also frustrated with the double standards he is experiencing around race and ethnicity. He says of the events of Charlottesville, “(If a) black person or a Muslim that did that, and attacked them, they would be called a terrorist.”
ElKarra suggests some of that centers around perception. “We are always looking at the American Muslim community from the security lens, and (we need) to start looking at them as part of the fabric of the greater society,” he said.
For college student Javairia Rizwan, the increase in hate crimes is no surprise. She adds it doesn’t change how she feels about her community.
“I have been a part of this community for so long, and I feel like it has made me really strong. I don’t ever feel like I am going to be attacked, or even if I feel like someone is going to approach me, I feel like I know exactly what to say and do to protect myself,” said Rizwan.
The report also found that community outreach and working other interfaith communities has helped to reduce the incident of hate crimes across the state.