Today is Eid al-Fitr, one of the holiest days for Muslims. It’s the end of Ramadan, the season of fasting and prayer (see previous post or read more here). I haven’t seen many stories in local or national media about Ramadan over the last month. I hope I see some stories today as Muslims break fast and celebrate tonight and for the next two days.
For, you see, more people who call themselves Muslim live in my metro area than people who call themselves Jewish. And I see stories each year around the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Why not Ramadan or Muslim holy days? I think it is because most journalists don’t know much about Islam (see story tips in this post).
So if you want to find out how many Muslims are in your area, the Association of Religion Data Archives, thearda.com, is the best place of which I know. Click here for a direct link to search by metropolitan area. You can also search by zip code or county.
For example, the top 5 most populous religious groups in metro Syracuse are:
- Roman Catholic: ~ 199,000
- United Methodist: ~ 30,000
- Evangelical Lutheran: ~ 8,000
- Episcopal: ~6300
- Muslim: ~ 6,000
Check out your area — and that an be your start to finding sources and doing stories about Muslims. I think it’s part of our ethical responsibility, especially at this time when there is so much misunderstanding of Islam, for the media to serve an educational role.
Another tip — want to find someone who is observing Eid in your area? Go to Twitter Advanced Search. Put in “Ramadan” or “Eid al-Fitr” and then (do this for sure) put your hometown in the section for Places. It will bring back posts from people who have their location services turned on and are within about 30 miles of that city and have typed that keyword in a recent tweet. Then you can reach out to him/her/them on twitter.