Mayor Bill de Blasio, together with city Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, announced on Wednesday March 4 that two Muslim holidays will be added to the New York public school calendar. New York will join a few other U.S. states that put Islamic holy days on the school calendar.
This decision comes with no surprise, taking into account that one of the things talked about during his campaign was to bring changes to the school calendar, with reference to the Muslim community.
The two holidays are Eid al-Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice which this year is celebrated on September 24 and Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the holy Ramadan. So beginning with summer of 2016, students celebrating the two Muslim holidays won’t need to attend classes on those dates.
According to City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito there are 1 million people out of the total 8 million living in New York City that practice Islam. A study conducted in 2009 by Columbia University found that 10 percent of students in this city are Muslims.
Mayor de Blasio considers his decision “a common-sense change” and one that honors the Muslim community and its contribution to the city.
Chancellor Farina said that:
“Muslim students and their families who observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha shouldn’t have to choose between an instructional day and their religious obligations.”
She added that these changes are also an opportunity for the other students to learn about religious diversity and tolerance but also that all communities, regardless of religious belief, bring their own contributions to the city’s society.
Executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and also the mother of three public school children, Linda Sarsour, considers that with these days off, Muslim students will no longer have to choose between education and faith.
Sarsour continued by saying the Muslim community is “a part of the fabric of this country” and that with this change in public school calendar “New York City made us proud”.
New York City is now a part of the small group of states which includes New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont that “similarly observe Muslim holidays”.
Among other holidays included in the New York public school calendar there are the Jewish Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Image Source: ALALAM