Thousands pack football field at St. Andre Bessette Catholic secondary school Friday for Eid-al-Adha

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Step aside Super Bowl: London’s Muslim community has a new, and inspiring, use for the gridiron.

Thousands of faithful packed the football field at St. Andre Bessette Catholic secondary school Friday morning for Eid-al-Adha, the second — and most holy — of the two annual Muslim holidays.

They prayed, they hugged, they laughed, smiled and met up with other members of the community — so many that exact attendance was difficult for organizers to pin down.

Some said 4,500 people came out, others estimated as many as 8,000, but event organizer Lana El Kadri isn’t caught up on getting an exact tally of attendees.

“It’s just nice to see he whole community come together,” she said.

“Our community has grown so big and we’re really struggling to find areas to pray.”

London Muslim Mosque board chair Ali Jomaa said the community has grown to 30,000 to 35,000 in the Forest City — and finding space to gather all together can be a challenge.

After hosting Eid-al-Adha celebrations at TD Waterhouse Stadium and Springbank Park in the past, he’s grateful for the warm welcome from the Catholic school board.

“This is London, where we can come to a Roman Catholic school and work together and utilize their football field,” he said.

“In London we can do these things. We reach out to each other.”

Imam Abd Alfatah Twakkal of the London Muslim Mosque led the Eid-al-Adha prayers Friday morning.

The four-day Muslim holiday, which wraps up Monday evening, honours Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, to obey God’s wishes.  


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