By Sara Elghobashy
July 9th, 2009
On June 30th, the NY City Council passed a resolution to add Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to the public schools’ holiday calendar. Unfortunately, the resolution is non-binding. It is now up to Mayor Bloomberg, who currently holds the power to make this decision, and he isn’t having it.
The Mayor believes that only those religions “with a very large number of kids who practice” should be accommodated on the holiday calendar. According to a 2008 study by Columbia University’s Teachers College, Muslim students represent at least 10 percent of public school students. Is that not large enough?
“If you close the schools for every single holiday, there won’t be any school,” said the mayor, adding, “Educating our kids requires time in the classroom, and that’s the most important thing to us.”
Supporters of the potential school holidays will have to continue their battle, as much of the community still has significant reservations:
According to the AP, Susan Fani, a spokeswoman for the Catholic League, said she didn’t oppose recognizing Muslim holidays in public schools, but was concerned that Catholics and Christians in the city were not treated with the same amount of respect and sensitivity. “Catholics get a Santa Claus or a tree, but aren’t allowed to display nativity scenes in school,” Fani said. “We just want to make sure that the enthusiasm that City Council is showing towards Muslims is the same kind of enthusiasm they are showing toward Christians.”
Well, Ms. Fani, that would be a valid point if the City Council had approved a resolution to post suras on school walls, but alas, we Muslims always aim too low. We foolishly asked to add only two holidays, which sometimes don’t even fall during the academic year, to a school calendar that gives an entire week off for Christmas and accommodates important Jewish holidays. Thinking back, we should have added the sura clause or perhaps demanded that every school paint a giant, green crescent and star on its front doors.
Note to Muslims: think bigger and better next time.
Even if Mayor Bloomberg were to reject the resolution, it may not be the end-all, be- all. A bill was introduced in Albany that, if passed, would mandate both Eids as official school holidays. Let’s cross our fingers. Err. I mean, make some du’as.