MINNEAPOLIS - Although Christmas decorations hang outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, inside it's a celebration of a different kind.
"It's like a family reunion that we do once each year," says Muftau Kayode Akinniyi, the event chairman.
Minneapolis is the host city for this year's National Council of Nigerian Muslim Organizations annual conference. Each year it brings together hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people to worship, learn and celebrate their heritage.
"We hold the conference around Christmas because the children are off of school and it gives them something to look forward to while their friends are celebrating their holiday," said Maryum Yusuf with the NCNMO Minnesota chapter.
More than 600 are in attendance for the five-day event. This year's theme is "Religion and Culture."
"Even though we are born here we don't want to lose our culture," says Akinniyi. "But at same time we want to be good to our society and be good citizens."
Children and young adults are the focus, too. Nigerian Muslims commonly say "It takes a village to raise a child."
"It is very important that everyone understands their culture," says Yusuf. "We're building a sense of community here."
The conference includes seminars, evening activities and readings from the Koran. The event ends Wednesday.
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