| The first stamp portraying the
Muslim holiday season is still causing controversy two years after its release
all over the United States, and Austin is no different. Along the line with
national movements, Austinites continue to debate the stamp.
The commemorative first class stamp, designed by
Zakariya of Arlington, Va., is the first stamp ever in the United States to
have words in Arabic. The Arabic features the phrase "Eid mubarak" in gold
calligraphy on a blue background and, in English, it reads "EID, Greetings."
The Eid stamp celebrates the two most important festivals in the Islamic
calendar, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. It was released by the US Postal Service
on Sept. 1, 2001 as part of its multicultural Holiday Celebration series. It
was later reissued in Oct. 2002, barely a month after the first anniversary of
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Now, over two years after the initial release
of the stamp, controversy is still soaring.
people believe that the stamp, which honors the Muslim religion, is a slap in
the face to the Americans who perished in the terrorist attacks. A mass email,
by an unknown author, is circulating the virtual world in response to this
controversy. It lists many of the Muslim attacks on the United States and then
urges readers to boycott the stamp, saying that "to use this stamp would be a
slap in the face to all those Americans who died at the hands of those whom
this stamp honors."
It seems to be a grassroots
effort," said Fred Taub, executive director of Boycott Watch. "Most boycotts
have an organization behind it. Is there a problem with this when somebody is
not taking responsibility for their actions? If you're calling for a boycott,
say who you are."
The unidentified author urges
people to boycott the stamp, but there seems to be no centralized campaign for
it. However, in spite of the lack of organization, this email remains one of
the most talked about issues on the Boycott Watch web-site.
"This happens to be one of the big things people come
to our web-site for," said Taub. "It's one of our top stories." While the
unidentified author is very upfront about his or her beliefs, not everyone
agrees with this perspective.
"Any claim that the
Muslim Eid Stamp is a slap in the face to Americans who lost their lives in the
9/11 terrorist attacks is a disgusting perversion of the Islamic faith and of
American patriotism," said Bryan Pravda, Executive Director of Public Relations
for the College Republicans at the University of Texas at Austin.
"For a lot of people, the religion of Islam is a way
of life, and it has been intertwined with the tradgic circumstances of today,"
said Svend White, secretary for the Study of Islam and Democracy. "It's sad for
me to see. There's a lot more that unites us spiritually than divides us."
There are seven million Muslims in the United States,
according to the American Muslim Council in Washington. Some would argue that
because of the growing Islamic population, it is important that they be
represented in all aspects of society, including representation during the
"The diversity in postal stamps
recognizes that America stands as a welcoming beacon to all faiths, colors, and
creeds," said Pravda.
"The Eid Stamp is an important
symbollic achievement, not only for Muslims, but for America," White said. "I
see it as a very important symbol of change and people's awareness."
However, many are still upset by the stamp. A poll by
Urbanlegends, through the "About" web-site, which is run by guides in over 20
countries, shows that the stamp rates 75 percent as a slap in the face to
American terrrorism victims. "People of all faiths should unite together to
dispel any wrongful claims made against a religion," said Pravda. "By
purchasing the Eid stamps, you are supporting freedom, the fundamental
characteristic of our nation."