New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that New York City’s public schools will add two Muslim holidays to the school calendar, joining a handful of Christian and Jewish holidays the city’s nearly one million public school students observe, The New York Times is reporting.
Beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year, kids in the city’s public schools will get the day off for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Fitr is the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which is marked by fasting throughout the daylight hours. Eid al-Adha (“The Festival of the Sacrifice”) honors the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Both days are celebrated with prayer, family gatherings, and a feast, according to NBC News.
Since Muslim holidays operate on a lunar calendar, the holidays won’t always fall on a fixed date on the Western solar calender. The next two Eid al-Fitr dates will occur in July, according to Time and Date, when New York City kids aren’t in school. Eid al-Adha 2015 will begin at sundown Wednesday, September 23, and end at sundown Thursday September 24, meaning kids will get that Thursday off.
De Blasio had promised to add the two Muslim holidays to the New York City public schools calendar during his campaign, saying that the inclusion was the right thing to do in light of the city’s growing Muslim population.
“It was just a matter of fairness, it’s as simple as that. This is a growing community in our city and in our schools and we wanted to recognize that.”
Although it’s unknown exactly how many of the kids in New York City’s public schools are Muslim, The Times notes that a 2008 study by Columbia University estimated that number at around ten percent (or 100,000 kids). Some 600,000 to one million Muslims are estimated to live in New York City.
The move to add two Muslim holidays to the New York City public school calendar underscores the sometimes difficult relationship the city has had with its Muslim population. Until April 2014, the NYPD routinely conducted surveillance on Muslims, according to this Inquisitr report. Radicalized Muslims have also carried out violent attacks in New York in recent months; most notably, Zale Thompson, who may have had ties to ISIS, carried out a random hatchet attack last September.
Do you think New York City is making the right move by adding Muslim holidays to its public school calendar? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.
[Image courtesy of: Getty Images/Paula Bronstein]