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July 28, 2014

Imagine the mobilization of  40 patriots to an event in less than a day. Such a feat would be possible, but unlikely.

Then, imagine the  mobilization of 40,000 Muslims in less than a day. Not only is the feat possible, but it actually happened in Birmingham, England today.

Eid al-Fitr is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide.

The festival was announced Sunday evening and, within hours, the largest celebration in British history was underway.

From our source we read:
Organising a festival for 40,000 people is no mean feat, what with the toilets, retrieving lost children and the ever present threat of rain. But those behind Birmingham's mammoth Eid al-Fitr bash on Monday had an extra headache to contend with: uncertainty about when the celebration would actually take place. It went right down to the wire. Only at teatime on Sunday, when scholars in Saudi Arabia spotted the new moon, were they able to announce that the jamboree – believed to be the biggest ever in the UK – would take place the following morning.

With more people expected in one day than attended the Latitude festival over a whole weekend this month, there was plenty to do, and only 16 hours in which to do it. Prayer mats were rolled out, skewers threaded with halal meat, gazebos erected.

Birmingham city council had granted the all-important event licence for Sunday, Monday or Tuesday – the three days given at the start of Ramadan as the most likely for the fast to end and the Eid partying to begin.

Prayers started at 9am in Small Heath park. Then began an all-day fiesta which was both very English and very Islamic. Ice cream vans did a roaring trade to mothers in niqabs, despite the obvious difficulties of enjoying a 99 in a full face veil. Overcooked halal sausages were being hawked for a pound a pop, children queued up to have their faces painted, and there was even a massage stall, for women only.

Eid is often compared to Christmas in the sense that it is a time for family get-togethers, but also for rampant spending, prompting some Muslims to share the concern of Christians about the commercialisation of their religious festival. Figures published on Monday suggested that UK retailers will get a boost from Middle Eastern customers upping spending at the end of Ramadan and Eid. Card processing firm Worldpay said it is expecting a surge of spending after sales to Middle East customers in August last year -when Eid occurred - leapt 88% on July 2013, with most of the spending in major department and clothing stores.
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