Hundreds of people marched in midtown Manhattan Sunday for the 33rd annual Muslim Day Parade.
The procession’s theme was “mercy for all,” which Mohammad Malik, a trustee at Muslim Majlis of Staten Island, said celebrated Muslims’ commitment to spreading peace and loving people of all religions.
“Everybody belongs to Allah, so we will spread love,” Malik, 58, yelled, while marching.
The parade kicked off with Zohr prayer, near 38th Street and Madison Avenue. Those marching carried flags from more than a dozen countries — including the U.S., Nigeria, the Dominican Republic and India — highlighting the array of communities practicing Islam around the globe.
Meryema Mulic, whose family has been coming from New Jersey to the march since she was a child, said the tradition helps convey cultural pride and dispel stereotypes about Islam. “A Muslim is like every other person walking in New York City,” said Mulic. “It’s sort of like a cultural thing and a part of my family’s identity and how we want to show that we have pride in being Muslim.”
The parade launched in 1985, with the goal of uniting and politically empowering American Muslims, according to organizers. The parade was canceled in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to organizers. They said crowds have been smaller since then due to the rise of Islamophobia and the political climate buoying President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from countries with a mostly Muslim population.
Still, the parade organizers said New York Muslims were pleased when their decades-long advocacy prompted the public school system to stop holding classes on the Eid holidays in 2015.
“We are Americans,” said Hussin Syed, chairman of this year’s parade. “We have a voice, and we will use it.”
The parade ended with a festival, complete with children’s rides, a live band and a voting registration booth.