American Muslims lobby USPS to keep holiday stamp

WASHINGTON: The American Muslim community spent years urging the

United States Postal Service (USPS) to produce a stamp commemorating

Islamic holidays, as it does for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Such

a stamp was finally unveiled on September 1, but already, the Muslim

community is campaigning for its survival.

The USPS produced 75 million copies of the stamp, and all must be sold

by the end of the year in order to ensure its continued production. The

fear within the Muslim community, however, is that backlash from the

attacks of September 11 will not only prevent people from buying the

stamps, it will prevent the USPS from promoting or displaying them.

The American Muslim Council is leading the charge to alert Americans to

the existence of the stamp and its availability. Members are talking to

the press - and receiving coverage in The Washington Post, The New York

Times, and several wire services - as well as reaching out to both

Muslim and interfaith gatherings. "There is a lot of understanding of

(the problem) in other faiths in other communities," said director of

communications Faiz Rehman.

One of the council's worst fears was realized early last month when a

USPS poster promoting its many holiday-themed stamps hit the street

noticeably lacking the Muslim stamp. Many suspected the slight to be

intentional, but USPS spokesmen claimed otherwise, and said the

oversight would be quickly corrected. Indeed, all 40,000 of the posters

have been recalled, and are to be replaced. The American Muslim Council

took no chances, however, and encouraged all its members to write

letters to postmaster general John Potter.

The stamp, commonly referred to as the Eid stamp, commemorates the

Islamic holidays Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Across the front are the

words "eid mubarak," translated as "blessed festival."

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