NYC Schools May Close For Muslim Holidays

| by Emily Smith

Regardless of what happens in the New York City mayoral election next month, it appears that children will receive two new holidays off from school: Muslim holy days Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Both Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota said schools should recognize these holidays, just as they recognize Jewish and Christian holidays.

Blasio called the decision a matter of respect at a campaign rally with Muslim groups in Brooklyn, noting that 13 percent of city school kids practice the religion.

"The origins of this nation [are] people of many different faiths coming together,” Blasio said. “That's why we have to respect Muslim faiths by providing the Eid school holidays for children in our school system.”

Blasio added that in 2006, one holiday fell on the same day as a state-wide exam, and therefore conflicted with students’ educational and religious obligations.

“They can’t do both,” Blasio said.

Lhota said that while schools will not close under his leadership, students will be allowed to take the day off without penalty.

He added, in the vein of Mayor Bloomberg’s thought, that the city needs more school days and not less.

Mona Davids, a Muslim parent, said she made the difficult decision of keeping her kids at home Tuesday during Eid al-Adha, despite concerns that absences would hurt their grades or effect applications to high schools.

Davids argued that closing schools for the holidays would not negatively impact students, but instead enhance their learning with an opportunity to inform themselves about another religion.

Sources: NY Daily News, Al Jazaeera