Montgomery county’s 2015-16 school calendar will not have Christmas or Easter on it. It also won’t have Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah.
The Muslim community in Montgomery wanted one thing: to have their religious holiday, Eid al-Adha, recognized in the same way that Jewish and Christian religious holidays are. They approached Montgomery's Board of Education to state their request. The result shocked the Muslim community, as the board decided to instead get rid of all references to religious holidays in the school calendar.
Montgomery's Board of Education has decided that schools will still be closed on the days of Christian and Jewish holidays, but each day off will be attributed to “operational impacts” instead of religious purposes.
Some Muslim leaders are offended by the board’s decision, considering that it came directly after their request for equality among Jewish, Christian and Muslim holidays.
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Saqib Ali, a former Maryland state delegate and co-chairman of the Equality for Eid Coalition, was particularly surprised by the board’s decision.
“By stripping the names Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they have alienated other communities now, and we are no closer to equality,” Ali told the Washington Post. “It’s a pretty drastic step, and they did it without any public notification.”
Co-chair Zainab Chaudry also expressed her disappointment, saying that the school board's members would rather “paint themselves as the Grinch who stole Christmas” than grant equal treatment for the Muslim holiday.
“They would remove the Christian holidays and they would remove the Jewish holidays from the calendar before they would consider adding the Muslim holiday to the calendar,” she told the Washington Post.
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The decision to do away with all the names of religious holidays on the school calendar was voted 7 to 1. The board wanted to be clear that they did not mean any disrespect to the Muslim community or any other religious community for that matter.
Michael A. Durso, the only member on the board to vote against the calendar change, pointed out that Montgomery likes to boast about its diversity and its embrace of different cultures.
“No matter how well-intentioned we are, it comes off as insensitive to Muslim families,” he said.
Source: Washington Post / Photo Credit: Associated Press