Muslims Push for Public School Holidays
by Saeed ShabazzSpecial to the NNPA from the Final Call
NEW YORK (NNPA) - A New York City councilman and 12 colleagues have sponsored a resolution calling on the state to require the Department of Education to incorporate the Muslim holidays of Eid Ul-Fitr and Eid Ul-Adha as observed holidays in the city’s public school calendar.
Immediately Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Resolution 1281 a “slippery slope,” saying students cannot afford more days off. “When you have a city as diverse as we do, with virtually every religion known to man practiced, if we closed school for every single day there wouldn’t be any school,” news reports quoted the two-term mayor as saying.
“The mayor’s reaction is not a surprise to me,” Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan), a Muslim, told The Final Call. “This resolution is clearly important because it shows respect for Islam,” the councilman added. “It also says to those who say no, are you willing to change as the population of New York City has changed?”
The resolution quotes from data supplied by Columbia University’s Middle East Institute’s NYC Project, which says the estimated Muslim population in the city is 600,000 people. According to the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays, 12 percent of NYC school students are Muslim, with 95 percent of Muslim school-age children attending public schools.Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) told The Final Call it was a “no-brainer” to support Resolution 1281. “I have at least seven mosques in my district. It is important to show that we will do whatever we can to work with all communities,” the deputy speaker of the council said. “If you are part of the city then you should be respected and acknowledged as everyone else is,” Councilman Comrie added.
A blogger, commenting in the New York Sun, the newspaper that broke the story, said, “school closings were old union negotiated holidays from back in the day when many of the teachers and students were Jewish; and that there is now a different demographic in the city.”
The state Department of Education’s website lists the following school closings: Rosh Hashanah (two days), Good Friday; non-religious holidays are Columbus Day, Presidents Day, Election Day, Memorial Day and Martin Luther King Day. Calls to education officials were not returned.
1) Muslims Push for Public School Holidays