Members of a Muslim youth group gathered in rainy weather outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall this weekend, armed with gloves and plastic bags to pick up the garbage that had accumulated during the government shutdown.
Across the country, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association showed up to national parks that have become overflowing with garbage as the federal government shutdown kept employees away. As CNN noted, members of the group picked up garbage and emptied overflowing garbage cans in parks from Florida to Ohio.
The group’s leaders said they felt a civic duty to help keep the parks clean for visitors.
“Service to our nation and cleanliness are important parts of Islam,” said Dr. Madeel Abdullah, the president of the youth group, in a press release.
“We could not sit idly by as our national parks collected trash. We will lead by example and dispose of this garbage appropriately and invite all Americans to join us in these parks and others across the nation.”
The young members of the group had some help. As the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association announced its plans to clean up national parks, many other members of the public reached out on social media to join in the effort, members told CNN.
We've got some guys heading out to the Everglades National Park tomorrow to help clean up. Join us at the Shark Valley entrance around 9am! #GovtShutdown #ParkCleanUp #WhatMuslimsDo pic.twitter.com/kQPoeioMso
— Muslim Youth USA (@MuslimYouthUSA) January 4, 2019
Across the country, many national parks have been forced to either close or restrict access to visitors as garbage and human waste overflowed. Officials in Oregon noted that Crater Lake National Park would need to close the road leading up to the iconic lake amid waste concerns.
“Due to conditions caused by the impact of human waste buildup on the park’s water system, the road to Crater Lake is now closed to vehicles at hwy 62 to protect public health and park resources. The road may not reopen until after the shutdown,” officials said on the park’s website.
The situation is largely the same across the country as closed bathrooms and unstaffed parks have led garbage and human waste to accumulate. The situation led the Willamette Week to call it a “national park poop crisis.”
Other parks faced similar situations to Crater Lake National Park.
“At the Point Reyes National Seashore in California, the buildup of human waste was so bad that the park had to be closed for health hazards,” the Daily Beast reported.
Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association said they hope the cleanup efforts the weekend will help keep the parks usable for visitors and to create a dialogue with members of the community who may not be familiar with the Muslim faith.