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Palo Alto Weekly - Dec 19, 2014

Palo Alto: Community celebrations spread peace and joy:
American Muslim Voice holds Eid Festival

by Carol Blitzer

Rounding out the December festivities was a celebration that's usually held at another season, following Ramadan (which was in July this year). Samina Sundas, founding executive director of American Muslim Voice Foundation, organized an Eid Festival on Dec. 12, with the help of a City of Palo Alto $1,000 Know Your Neighbors grant.Eid Festival 12-12-2014 (26)

Held at the Lucie Stern Community Center ballroom, the event drew 300 people who enjoyed a Pakistani dinner, shared desserts from around the world and participated in Nasheed spiritual singing. There was even a photo booth with opportunities to have a photo taken in ethnic dress.

The event also honored "unsung community heroes," including Palo Alto Mayor Nancy Shepherd and Altaf Chaus, the Muslim Burger King owner who returned $100,000 cash to the police because of his faith.

Sundas noted that holding the Eid Festival now is part of an initiative dubbed "Share the joy of Eid," which she said "is part of the American Muslim Voice's larger goal to move all Americans 'from fear to friendship,' by expanding the sense of community at a grassroots level."

Sundas posited why so many chose to come during the busy holiday season: "Given the state of our nation all Americans are tired of being divided and being afraid of each other. And now our message of unity, kindness, love, peace and friendship is appealing to all," she wrote in an email.

"What do we have to lose? The old ways have created a culture of despair, division and violence, and together we can replace it with a culture of hope inclusion and peace."

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