New Yorkers Rally for Muslim Holidays
By Faiza N. Ali
This Wednesday, June 30th, at 11am, hundreds of New Yorkers including elected officials, students, parents and activists will stand on the steps of City Hall to deliver one message to Mayor Bloomberg: We want Muslim school holidays and we want them now!
One year ago, the NY City Council voted unanimously in favor of Resolution 1281 calling on the Department of Education to incorporate Eid Ul Adha and Eid Ul Fitr in the public school calendar. Since the vote, the Coalition of Muslim School Holidays, a group of over 80 civic, religious and labor groups, has mobilized across the city and gained broad support. The Mayor has received thousands of letters from constituents, just as many phone calls to his office, and support from all five borough presidents, the comptroller, and the public advocate. Unfortunately, the Mayor has not gotten the message.
Why is Mayor Bloomberg ignoring New Yorkers?
New York City is home to an estimated 1 million Muslims, one of the fastest growing and most diverse religious populations in the city. One in eight public school students in NYC is Muslim and 95% of Muslim students attend public schools.
Eid Ul Adha and Eid Ul Fitr are the two most important holidays in the Muslim faith, similar to Christmas in the Christian faith and Yom Kippur in the Jewish faith. Recognizing these holidays ensures that the significant population of Muslim students does not have to make an unfair choice between missing school and participating in their most important holy days.
Incorporating the holidays will have a minimal impact on the public school system. The two holidays are based on a lunar calendar and research indicates that often at least one of the Eids occurs during summer recess, weekends, or school holidays. In fact, this September Eid Ul Fitr will fall on Rosh Hashanah, an already recognized holiday within the public school system.
As the number of Muslim students in public schools continues to grow, it is only natural that New York City should recognize this significant population and take this opportunity to reaffirm that all students, including Muslim students, are an integral part of our city.
Faiza N. Ali is the Community Affairs Director with New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a steering committee member of the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays and native Brooklynite. Contact her at email@example.com for more information.