Thousands of men and women gather Monday for prayer inside Toyota Park for Eid al-Fitr, which signals the end of Ramadan. | Nick Swedberg/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 30, 2014 6:18AM
Thousands of Muslims filled the field at Bridgeview’s Toyota Park Monday morning for an unusually somber Eid prayer ceremony in the light of heightened hostilities between Israel and Gaza.
Volunteers collected signatures for the 5,000 postcards brought to the event. They intend to mail them to President Obama over the latest deaths in recent violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
The postcards, which 10 chapters of the American Muslims for Palestine across the country distributed Monday, demand that the White House intervene in the fighting in the Gaza Strip and stop the deaths of Palestinians, AMP spokeswoman Kristin Szremski said.
Szremski hopes that the postcards, which also sought an end to U.S. military aid to Israel, will be seen as a call that “American citizens are not going to accept the military targeting of civilians.”
More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed over three weeks of violence that began July 8 in an Israeli-led military campaign to destroy rockets and tunnels in Gaza. The clash also has claimed the lives of 43 Israeli soldiers.
A “truce day” was sought to put a temporary halt to the fighting for Eid al-Fitr, but more deaths from attacks on both sides were reported Monday.
Eighty percent of the Palestinian deaths have been civilizations and about 20 percent are children, Szremski said.
Sheikh Jamal Said, of the Mosque Foundation, lead both the Eid prayer and a funeral prayer for the 1,034 Palestinians who have died.
Envelopes addressed to the White House also were handed out to children, who were asked to write a personal message.
Most of the worshippers who attended prayer service inside Toyota Park on Monday are Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans, Szremski said.
Eid al-Fitr signals the end of the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan. Szremski said that the celebration typically would have a carnival for children and food vendors outside the park.
“Eid is usually a very joyous celebration for us,” Szremski said.
State Sen. Steven Landek, D-Bridgeview, who spoke at the event, said that a Village committee is examining a proposed park by the Mosque Foundation. The park would be located on ComEd land within the village.
Oussama Jammal, vice president of the Mosque Foundation, said the park and other similar projects are meant to encourage Muslim-American children to take pride in their country and their heritage.
AMP is based in Palos Hills and works toward raising awareness about Palestine.
The Mosque Foundation is located in Bridgeview and serves more than 50,000 Muslims.