Belief Beat

Rosh Hashanah 2010, the Jewish New Year (also spelled Hashana), begins tonight at sundown. The two-day festivity coincides this year with the Muslim celebration of Eid-al-Fitr 2010 (also spelled Id-al-Fitr — Judaism and Islam give copy editors headaches), which marks the end of the daytime fasting month of Ramadan.

It’s an interfaith calendar convergence that could make for nice coverage of Jews and Muslims clinking glasses together, except for the Islamophobia angles making headlines:

1) Muslims are worried that people will misinterpret their Sept. 10 feasting as some kind of 9/11-related event, and some are toning their celebrations down as a preventative measure. Meanwhile, some families of 9/11 victims have asked organizers of a planned “Ground Zero mosque” protest against the proposed Park51 Islamic community center not to rally in lower Manhattan on their day of mourning.

2) A Florida evangelical church led by Pastor Terry Jones still plans to hold “Burn a Koran Day” on Sept. 11, despite outcry from U.S. military leaders, government officials and every corner of the religious spectrum — including even the Vatican, which just weighed in against the rally, calling it “outrageous.” Even Angelina Jolie has condemned it, during her trip to Pakistan’s flood-ravaged region as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador.

Such are the perils of a rotating religious calendar — your holidays may end up at inconvenient (in this case, problematic from a public relations and/or political perspective) times of the secular January-December year. At least with their own calendar this year, Jews are merely griping about the New York City public school schedule, which started classes today but has to be off the rest of the week, and that New York Fashion Week overlaps with their observance.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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