Quinn signs religious tolerance bill at end-of-Ramadan celebration
BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter August 19, 2012 3:16PM
Gov. Pat Quinn joins in prayer with Chicago area Muslims during Salaat al-Eid at Toyota Park, which celebrates the end of Ramadan (the holy month of fasting observed by Muslims). Sunday, August 19, 2012 | Brian Jackson~Sun Times
Updated: September 21, 2012 6:27AM
Gov. Pat Quinn celebrated the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at a ceremony that drew 15,000 people to Toyota Park on Sunday morning in the southwest suburb of Bridgeview.
The governor used the occasion to sign a bill that will allow university students who have religious holiday conflicts with tests or assignments to ask for and receive alternate assignments.
Gov. Quinn also decried recent attacks against local Muslims, citing a shooting at a Morton Grove mosque, an attack on an Islamic school in Lombard and the desecration of a grave in an Evergreen Park cemetery.
“These are un-American acts,” he said. “The people of Illinois, all 13 million, abhor anyone who would commit these serious acts of violence as a violation of our constitution.”
The governor called religious freedom “The most American and fundamental freedom that we have in our country,” and said “The First Amendment of our constitution says that everyone, everyone has the right to practice their religion and their faith without fear of intimidation.”
The celebration of the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer and reflection, was organized by the Bridge-view Mosque, led by Imam Jamal Said.
The soccer field was entirely covered by Muslims who listened to speeches and were led in prayers by Said. Following the Muslim tradition, women were seated separately from men.
Quinn, kneeling on a rug facing the holy city of Mecca, followed along as thousands bowed in prayer to celebrate Eid, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
“It’s a time to bring families together, a time for peace, a time for prosperity, a time for the Muslim community to reflect on all the great things we have,” said Rashad Darwish, a member of the mosque.
After participating in the ceremony and praying, the governor left without talking to reporters.