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Margate event continues today
By Macollvie Jean-François, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted April 16 2006
Margate -- Under a large tent behind a local mosque, Islamic music surrounded Muslims browsing wares on display at the second annual Islamic community festival Saturday. In the background, children screamed from nearby slides. And the scent of curried meats wafted toward tables stacked with Islamic books, DVDs, photos, fabric, jewelry and other items from around the globe.
Farhaad Naim, of Pembroke Pines, tried to take it all in.
"It's cool," said Farhaad, 8, his eyes looking around the parking lot of Masjid Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen on Holiday Springs Boulevard. "It has a lot of stuff."
Between Miami Heat games, PlayStation and his cousins, Farhaad gets much amusement. His parents are grateful that the fun at the free, two-day festival organized by the American Muslim Association of North America has a higher purpose: bringing people together.
"We used to have these festivals back home all the time," said mom Amber, 29, who is from Pakistan. "I want to show him something what happens in his own community."
About 5,000 people of all faiths are expected, said AMANA national director Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout. Literature about Islam, legal and civil rights advice, information from law enforcement agencies, medical screenings, toys and candy, and emergency preparedness kits are available free of charge.
Photos of Pakistani earthquake victims are on exhibit inside the mosque, to raise funds for relief efforts there.
Abdelaziz Zakkout said the goal is to bring residents of all faiths under one roof to learn about Islam, though most who came Saturday are Muslim.
"For a healthier society, we should always bring people together," he said. "If all cities do what we do here, there'll be more understanding. Instead of looking at us [Muslims] as part of the problem, they'll see us as part of the solution."
The U.S. Census Bureau does not track religious populations, but the latest survey from the Council on American-Islamic Relations found there are 70,000 Muslims in South Florida. Abdelaziz Zakkout said an estimated 150,000 live in the region, and that number is growing.
Those already here relish such gatherings as the AMANA bazaar.
"We have very few opportunities to have social interaction with other Muslims," said Sarah Tlemsani, 35, of Miami. "My kids get to see other Muslims, play with other Muslim kids."
the AMANA community festival continues today, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Masjid Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen, 3222 Holiday Springs Boulevard in Margate. For more information, contact AMANA Director Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout at 305-898-9314.
Staff Researcher William Lucey contributed to this report