NEW YORK — US Muslim groups have urged law enforcement agencies to be on guard during Eid al-Fitr, the end-of-Ramadan holiday which this year coincides with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, officials said Friday.
A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), an advocacy group, said local and federal agencies across the country were being asked to remain vigilant during the Eid celebrations.
MPAC communications director Edina Lekovic said the warning came because of what she called a "heightened climate of Islamophobia" in recent months, citing protests against plans to build an Islamic center and mosque in Manhattan, not far from the site of Ground Zero.
"We're seeing consistent cases of protests taking place in front of some mosques organized largely by Islamophobic groups," Lekovic told AFP.
"At this stage it's just a precaution because there are many mosque leaders around the country who are understandably concerned for their congregations and want to be sure that they're taking preventative measures and that law enforcement is on standby if, God forbid, there are any issues that need to be dealt with."
Lekovic emphasized that Ramadan and Eid festivals in the United States usually passed without incident.
"By and large, Ramadan and the Eid holidays are peacefully celebrated by Muslims and ignored by the public," she said.
However the furor over the Ground Zero mosque and cases including a Florida church that has announced plans to hold "International Burn a Koran Day" on September 11 have triggered concerns of possible hate crimes.
"We're asking local police and sheriff's departments to be vigilant as well as federal authorities. We're asking federal authorities to examine cases where there are violent acts against Muslims or mosques," Lekovic said.
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