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    Posted May 23, 2012 by
    Bridgeview, Illinois

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    Palestinian heritage event draws thousands


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     kszremski, an organizer with nonprofit American Muslims for Palestine, shot these photos of a May 20 event in Bridgeview, Illinois, celebrating Palestinian heritage and commemorating the struggles of those living in the Occupied Territories. 'The main message was that the Nakba, which began the process of ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their homeland, continues today because of Israel's occupation,' she said. 'The message was that Palestinians will not forget 1948, and that Palestinian Americans will continue to work to educate the American public about the occupation so that one day the public will encourage their elected officials to craft a more balanced and equitable foreign policy for everyone in the Middle East.'
    - jmsaba, CNN iReport producer

    Throughout the day, at least 3,500 people from several states including Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and New York, attended an outdoor Palestinian heritage celebration, hosted by the Chicago chapter of the American Muslims for Palestine on May 20 in Bridgeview, IL.


    From the lively Palestine Parade, replete with horses, floats, folk music, and an overwhelming presence of dePalestinian flags billowing in the wind, to dabka (folk dancing) performances, freshly baked bread from replica ‘taboons’ (clay ovens), and educational tents highlighting the villages of Deir Yasin, Asqalan and Jaffa, the sixth annual event focused on passing passing along Palestine’s rich cultural and historical heritage to succeeding generations of Palestinian Americans. The event also remembered those who were forced from their homes and villages in events leading up to the creation of the state of Israel, known to Palestinians and their supporters as the ‘Nakba,’ or Catastrophe.


    AMP-Chicago’s second annual Palestine Parade hit the streets with more floats and a beautiful matched pair of horses pulling an antique-style carriage. In addition to floats carrying AMP dabka troupes, Girl Scout troop # 70528 from Lockport/Homer Glen, also joined the parade. Lively nasheed, and numerous Palestinian flags livened up a Bridgeview-area neighborhood as it wound its way along the parade route, gathering participants as it went.


    No Palestinian cultural celebration would be complete without dabka performances, and AMP-Chicago’s 6th annual Nakba event was no exception. Four dabka groups, including two AMP-Chicago children’s groups, Bier Nabala group and Sanabal al-Quds of Milwaukee, entertained throughout the day.


    One of the most popular features in the past three Nakba events has been the replica ‘taboons’ or ovens, and the aroma of bread baking on hot coals. People lined up, patiently waiting for a portion of the warm, fluffy bread.


    As always, the most popular feature of AMP-Chicago’s Nakba event was the replica Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock, crafted by AMP volunteers. Situated in the center of the midway, the replica mosques attract a great deal of attention as guests stopped to get their pictures taken by the most significant symbols of Palestine.


    A 16-foot Apartheid Wall with original artwork reminiscent of Palestinian resistance graffiti greeted visitors as they entered the outdoor event. Guests also were given replica hawiyya, or Palestinian ID cards, to mirror Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian movement.


    A prisoners’ tent paid tribute to those who courageously fought for their inherent human rights while being imprisoned without charge or trial, including Khader Adnan, Hanan Shalabi, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh.


    #1- Palestinian flags wave in the wind during the parade
    #2 - A man serves fresh tamr hindi or tamarind juice, a sight reminiscent of Palestinian streets.
    #3- Rashid Darwish, of the Rise Up radio program interviews community activist Rafeeq Jaber, Regional Director for the Dallas Texas-based Muslim Legal Fund of America, on stage at AMP-Chicago’s 6th annual Palestine heritage celebration.
    #4 - Salah Abdelrahman, of Frankfort, leads the second Palestine parade.
    #5 - Ismail Mizyed, 2 years, of Orland Park, takes a break from the festivities of AMP-Chicago’s outdoor Palestinian heritage festival to take a nap in his stroller.
    #6 - AMP Dabka girls troupe performs.
    #7 - Crowds gather around a replica Al Aqsa mosque compound, which contains not only Aqsa -Islam's 3rd holiest site, but also Dome of the Rock mosque, with its signature golden dome.
    #8 - Three girls sit next to a replica of the Dome of the Rock mosque. The real mosque is in the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.
    #9 - A woman flips bread dough, which is baking on replica 'taboon.' In Palestinian villages, this bread is normally baked in clay oven.

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