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Muslims in Maryland petition schools to close on Eid, like on Christmas, Yom Kippur ETA: School district calendar

Posted by on May. 3, 2013 at 10:23 AM
  • 29 Replies


Schools are usually closed on Easter Monday and Rosh Hashanah—why not Eid al-Fitr?

That’s the question Mimi Hassanein, a resident of Brinkow, Md., asks herself every time the Eids fall on a school day. The two most important Islamic holidays —Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha —are traditionally spent praying and feasting with family and friends. But Hassanein says that every year, her grandchildren and other Muslim youth in her school district are forced to choose between their religion and their grades.

“Of course it’s hard when they miss a class and have to make up an exam,” the grandmother told the New York Daily News. “But it’s like asking them to go to school on Christmas.”

Hassanein says the debate is an old one in the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) system. It echoes similar discussions brought up by Muslim activists across America. Public schools need a valid secular reason to institute a new holiday — otherwise, they would appear to be favoring a specific religion. But the fact remains that many American school districts have historically scheduled breaks around religious holidays. Following state mandates, MCPS closes for Christmas, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Passover.

After immigrating to America from Egypt 42 years ago, Hassanein sent three children through the MCPS school system. She now has 15 grandchildren in the school and worries that they are losing their Muslim identities. The grandmother, along with several other Muslim activists in her state, has started an Equality 4 Eid campaign, hoping to add the two Eids to the list of holidays.

Six American school systems with significant Muslim populations do close down for Eid, according to Maryland’s branch of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MD). As Montgomery County’s Muslim population continues to grow, activists at CAIR-MD say the unequal treatment is getting difficult to hide.

The dates for Eid change every year in accordance with the Islamic calendar. Eid- al Fitr, a festival that breaks the month-long Ramadan fast, took place on Aug. 18 last year. Eid al-Adha celebrates the Hajj pilgrimage. In 2012, it fell on Oct. 25.

Saqib Ali, Equality 4 Eid’s co-chair, said he kept his first grade daughter home from school last October. The 38-year-old dad took her to a mosque service and let her spend the rest of the day playing with her younger sister, eating, and visiting friends — all important parts of celebrating the holiday.

But Ali wasn’t happy that she had to miss school. He sees a clear disparity between how his daughter is treated compared with her Christian and Jewish friends in the Montgomery County school district.

“People of other faiths don’t have to make that choice,” Ali told the New York Daily News.

MCPS decided to close school on Jewish high holy days more than 40 years ago. The district confirmed that there are no historical records explaining why or how that decision was made.

As president of Montgomery County’s Muslim Student Association, Karim says he knows several Muslim students who want to stay home and celebrate but go to school to maintain their grades.

“My Christian friends have Christmas off,” said Karim, an Equality 4 Eid co-chair. “This is our holiday, but we have to leave school and miss exams to celebrate it.”

Calendar decisions are made every November by an MCPS’s Board of Education. Last year, the eight-member committee declined to make changes to the calendar to accommodate the Eid holidays.

This year, Eid al-Adha falls on Tuesday, Oct. 15. The Equality 4 Eid team is asking supporters to sign an online petition. They’re also asking members of the community — both Muslim and non-Muslim — to have their students stay home on and celebrate Eid.

Ali says he’s loathe to have his first-grader miss a day of instruction. But he says this is a “civil rights issue,” one that deserves national attention.

“I think it’s hard to argue against treating people equally,” Ali said.





by on May. 3, 2013 at 10:23 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Talee
by Gold Member on May. 3, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Why not.

romalove
by Roma on May. 3, 2013 at 10:31 AM
1 mom liked this

I'm in NJ, and the Jewish holidays are observed with closings at school on a district by district basis.  Where I live, we have three Jewish temples in town (and a charter school that is bilingual English and Hebrew) and the schools are closed for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover.  The next town over does not observe those holidays and they are open.

It is generally done on a "how many kids will be absent" basis, meaning, they don't care so much about the holiday but about the loss of federal dollars for kids who don't attend on an open day.  They'd rather have another day be open when they will get maximum attendance.

My town has stopped saying the days off in September are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. They now call them Fall Break 1 and Fall Break 2.  

Everything's up to date in Kansas City......we've got it all PC around here too.... come on folks, sing along....

MamaAjax
by Member on May. 3, 2013 at 10:38 AM

I'm all for the hey why not.

However I am fearful of what it would bring to the table. If we open to Muslim holidays under the "equality" banner, we would then have to open to to many other religious holidays observed by Hindus and other religions.

Personally I am for the flip side. School is a government system, there for it should follow the government calender. If state offices are open school should be too. Which would then end the month long Christmas calender.

However. I'm taking my kids out of public school. So really I'm bowing out of this one.  

Mama Ajax @ Blogger

Just a little bit my life experiences.

MamaAjax
by Member on May. 3, 2013 at 10:41 AM
1 mom liked this

Yeah our schools have taken to naming the breaks "seasonal breaks" too. Christmas is called "Winter Break" and Easter is now "Spring Break" and the original Spring Break which was separate from Easter no longer exists.


Quoting romalove:

I'm in NJ, and the Jewish holidays are observed with closings at school on a district by district basis.  Where I live, we have three Jewish temples in town (and a charter school that is bilingual English and Hebrew) and the schools are closed for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover.  The next town over does not observe those holidays and they are open.

It is generally done on a "how many kids will be absent" basis, meaning, they don't care so much about the holiday but about the loss of federal dollars for kids who don't attend on an open day.  They'd rather have another day be open when they will get maximum attendance.

My town has stopped saying the days off in September are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. They now call them Fall Break 1 and Fall Break 2.  

Everything's up to date in Kansas City......we've got it all PC around here too.... come on folks, sing along....



Mama Ajax @ Blogger

Just a little bit my life experiences.

soonergirl980
by Silver Member on May. 3, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Ummmm don't they know Christians do not get "Christmas" off they get winter break just so happens it traditionally falls at Christmas. It absolutely cannot be about Christmas as the word Christmas isn't even allowed at school.

finnbar
by Silver Member on May. 3, 2013 at 10:43 AM
I think they have a valid concern. Kids should not be penalized gradewise because they have a religeous event.
Talee
by Gold Member on May. 3, 2013 at 10:43 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting romalove:

I'm in NJ, and the Jewish holidays are observed with closings at school on a district by district basis.  Where I live, we have three Jewish temples in town (and a charter school that is bilingual English and Hebrew) and the schools are closed for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover.  The next town over does not observe those holidays and they are open.

It is generally done on a "how many kids will be absent" basis, meaning, they don't care so much about the holiday but about the loss of federal dollars for kids who don't attend on an open day.  They'd rather have another day be open when they will get maximum attendance.

My town has stopped saying the days off in September are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. They now call them Fall Break 1 and Fall Break 2.  

Everything's up to date in Kansas City......we've got it all PC around here too.... come on folks, sing along....

This makes sense.

 

Jen #1238904688930684906

greenie63
by Silver Member on May. 3, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Many of the county school systems in Maryland close for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but not all in fact Baltimore City does not close. 

This has been debated for a long time here in Maryland and honsetly if enough students will miss school, they should incorporate it into the schedule. 

Montgomery county is so diverse, probably because it is one of the school districts that politicians, and visiting dignitaries choose to live in. My older sister taught in Montgomery county for many years and it is also a very affluent county, so money talks there. 

lizmarie1975
by Gold Member on May. 3, 2013 at 10:47 AM


My fault. I forgot to add the school district calendar. It's been added now and the district does indicate that the kids have off for Christmas.

Quoting soonergirl980:

Ummmm don't they know Christians do not get "Christmas" off they get winter break just so happens it traditionally falls at Christmas. It absolutely cannot be about Christmas as the word Christmas isn't even allowed at school.



soonergirl980
by Silver Member on May. 3, 2013 at 10:56 AM

It's really hard to read the calendar but doesn't say 25-31 winter break or something so they list the 25th off but they would have it off anyway due to winter break right? I don't really understand why they would list it 2 times on the calendar.

I think that you can't have every single holiday for every single religion because then the kids would have to go to school all year just to fit in all the days off. It's just one of those things that could never be completely equal.


Quoting lizmarie1975:


My fault. I forgot to add the school district calendar. It's been added now and the district does indicate that the kids have off for Christmas.

Quoting soonergirl980:

Ummmm don't they know Christians do not get "Christmas" off they get winter break just so happens it traditionally falls at Christmas. It absolutely cannot be about Christmas as the word Christmas isn't even allowed at school.





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