This Day In History: September 1

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Five years of lobbying comes to fruition on September 1, 2001, as the U.S. Postal Service releases the first American stamp celebrating Muslim holidays. A blue stamp featuring gold calligraphy celebrating Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, along with the English words “EID GREETINGS,” the stamp is included alongside stamps celebrating other religious holidays, a victory for Muslim representation in America.

For years, many American Muslims pushed for the creation of a holiday stamp of their own, arguing that their two holiest days (Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan fasting, while Eid al-Adha marks the culmination of the haj) deserved the same level of recognition as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. After a letter-writing campaign in which more than 5,000 Muslim children sent messages to the Postmaster General, the Postal Service announced the new stamp in August of 2001. Calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya designed the stamp, which was released as part of the Postal Service's “Holiday Celebration Series.”

The Eid stamp would receive unwelcome attention, due largely to the 9/11 attacks which took place just ten days after its release. In the wake of the attacks and the subsequent wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, activists lobbied to make the stamp permanent, symbolizing the right of American Muslims to live peacefully and on equal footing with their fellow Americans. The stamp was reissued in October of 2001 and many times after that—its re-issuing in 2009 sparked rumors among right-wing reactionaries that new President Barack Obama, whom many falsely believed to be Muslim, had ordered its creation. Despite the unfortunate coincidence of its original release, the stamp is a mainstay of the U.S. Postal Service's holiday series, and an updated version is currently available as a Forever stamp.