Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City public schools will observe two Muslim holidays. Thus, New York joins New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont, states that have already made Muslim holidays official.
“This is a common sense change, and one that recognizes our growing Muslim community and honors its contributions to our City.”
says mayor de Blasio. This enactment comes in support of hundreds of thousands of Muslim families, that no longer have to choose between having their children marked absent and practicing their religion.
The two holidays that will be added in the 2015-16 school calendar are Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. The former is a festival that celebrates Abraham`s sacrifice of his own son, Isaac, to God. This is a story also found in the Bible`s Old Testament and in the Jewish Torah. The latter is the last day of the holy month of Ramadan and it falls over the summer break in 2016, but targets the students attending summer schools.
It is estimated that there are up to one million Muslims in New York and roughly 10 percent of the students in public schools are of Islamic religion, according to a 2008 Columbia University study.
“Muslim children will never again have to choose between their faith and their education. Today is a day that will go down in history. We did this for our children and the generations to come. Thank you New York City for making me even more proud to be a New Yorker. I thank Allah for allowing me and my colleagues to see the fruits of our labor.”
wrote Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab-American Association of New York in a post on Facebook.
Adding the two Muslim holidays to the public schools calendar is a decision that fulfils a campaign led by mayor Bill de Blasio, who pleaded for official recognition of diverse religious holidays in the educational system. The mayor said he upholds the Lunar New Year`s recognition to the calendar but admitted he does not have a firm position regarding the case of the Hindu holiday of Diwali.
“As a New York City public school student, I was marked absent when observing Muslim Holidays. As the parent of two public school students, my children have been marked absent for observing our Muslim Holidays. This has been a long fight that I and many others have advocated for many years and am happy the day has come that parents do not have to choose between their child marked absent from school or their religious observance.”
says Mona Davids, who is the president of the New York City Parents Union.
Bill de Blasio`s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, did not support adding more holidays to the public school calendar. He reckoned that there wouldn`t be any school left, if the authorities were to close schools for every holiday. He considered the fact that New York is such a culturally diverse city that such a measure would not have been viable.
Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are now part of the public schools calendar, along with Christian holidays like Good Friday and Christmas and the Jewish Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Image Source: New York Times