Boycott Watch
November 4, 2003
Muslim USPS Eid Holiday Stamp Still
Controversial Two Years Later
   Summary: After two years, An email about the Muslim Eid holiday stamp released by the United States Postal Service in 2001 is still controversial. Abby McAfee, a journalism student at The University of Texas at Austin, wrote the following article and submitted it to Boycott Watch:
By Abby McAfee - Special report to Boycott Watch
    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.

   Some 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 holiday season.

   "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."
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