NEW YORK — Both the Republican and Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City are expressing their support for adding two Islamic holidays to the academic calendar.
Republican Joe Lhota and Democrat Bill de Blasio state that schools should close on both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, two major Muslim holy days. The first celebrates the close of Ramadan and the second observes Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, and marks the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.
The men state that because an approximate 13 percent of students are Muslim, schools should respect their beliefs by allowing a day off for observance.
“The origins of this nation [are] people of many different faiths coming together,” de Blasio told the New York Daily News. “That’s why we have to respect Muslim faiths by providing the Eid school holidays for children in our school system.”
“We have a growing Muslim community in the city of New York, and their religion needs to be respected as all other religions are respected,” Lhota agreed.
The men state that the schools would add two days to the educational calendar to make up for the time lost.
“We’ll have to extend the school days by those two days,” Lhota said. “But nonetheless those who are Muslim will be allowed to have that day off to celebrate their holidays.”
But current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, opposes the idea. He says that once you open the door for Muslim holidays to be observed, every other religion will also request that their holidays be recognized.
“The mayor believes our students need more time in the classroom, not less,” Bloomberg spokesman Jake Goldman told CBS New York. “When you have a city as diverse as New York, you simply cannot add a holiday for every religion.”
Already Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm has submitted a proposal requesting that public schools provide a day off for the Hindu holiday Diwali. Jewish students are currently able to observe Rosh Hashanah each September as well.
A few cities in the nation close school in observance of Islamic holidays, including Dearborn and Dearborn Heights in Michigan, which have a heavy Muslim population. Reports state that Massachusetts and Vermont also provide days off in some districts.
However, reaction surrounding doing the same in New York City has been mixed.
“Personally, I have no objection to minority groups telling the majority what to do, we pretty much run that way as it is when you consider that our minority politicians are running the rest of us,” one commenter stated. “Two days this way, two days that. I don’t think it’s a big deal really. Either way, the kids will only end up with a public education.”
“What about Bahi, Celtic, Buddhist, and Hindu holidays?” another asked. “If all students get the day off for every holiday no matter the religion, soon the schools won’t be open much. They should just make it an excused day for the child that celebrates certain holidays, and still have school for the rest of the students.”
“So the Christians can’t have anything religious in school, but the Muslims will get the schools closed for their holidays,” a third commenter lamented. “I must be in some kind of weird nightmare where up is down and wrong is right. Please, somebody wake me up.”