NYC to Add Eid Holidays to Public School Calendar

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the addition of the Eid holidays on March 4 at the PS/IS 30 Mary White Ovington in Brooklyn. According to Bloomberg, "36 percent of its students were absent the last time Eid al-Adha occurred on an instructional day." (Photo via the Flickr page of the mayor's office)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the addition of the Eid holidays to the public school calendar at the PS/IS 30 Mary White Ovington in Brooklyn. According to Bloomberg, “36 percent of its students were absent the last time Eid al-Adha occurred on an instructional day.” (Photo via the Flickr page of the mayor’s office)

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on March 4 that the city is adding the two Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr to the public school calendar, a sign of the increasing influence of the Muslim community in New York.

With this announcement, the city becomes the largest school district in the country to recognize the two holidays, joining districts in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont. The change will go into effect in the next school year, with schools closed on Sept. 24 for Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, and summer school closed for Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan.

(Photo via the Flickr page of the mayor's office)

(Photo via the Flickr page of the mayor’s office)

In reporting on the morning announcement, The Bronx Chronicle mentions that officials estimate 1 in 8 public school students are Muslim.

Bakary Camara, a parent, a realtor and leader of the Gambian Society, who was at the Mayor’s announcement, said the policy change recognizes that Muslims are “part and parcel of the fabric of New York City.” Camara made pointed remarks against Islamic terrorism. “We Muslims who oppose the terrorists can send the message that we are treated fairly and there is no aggression against Muslims here.”

Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union, stated the next item of priority – pushing for Halal lunches in schools.

“Now, we will continue our campaign to provide Halal lunches to students because too many Muslim students are going hungry in our schools.”

In its coverage, Home Reporter includes statements of support from City Council member Vincent Gentile (D-Southwest Brooklyn) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams:

“I am proud to represent one of the largest Muslim populations in New York City and today I commend Mayor de Blasio for making good on his promise for New York City public schools to observe two of the most sacred Muslim holy days,” said Gentile. “Both days have been added to the New York City public school schedule in a change that respects the diversity of our city.”

“Brooklyn has a proud and growing Muslim community, enriching neighborhoods from Bay Ridge to Boerum Hill,” said Adams. “Their culture and traditions are woven into the beautiful patchwork quilt that is our borough, where we know that celebrating our diversity makes us stronger.”

Indian publication The American Bazaar, meanwhile, was less celebratory, saying that de Blasio was not going “to get any brownie points from the Hindus and also Chinese residents.”

The reason: Diwali and the Lunar New Year, also among long-standing demand to be deemed as holidays, have yet again been ignored.

The paper didn’t have high hopes for seeing the addition of Diwali to the public school calendar.

It’s no secret that as far as the festival of Diwali goes, it’s convenient for most families in the US to celebrate it publicly on a weekend, when commercial Diwali melas are held, or even for family gatherings. And those who celebrate the festival on the given day at home, usually make it an evening occasion.

So, this is not to suggest that parents pull their children out from school this year’s Diwali to give a loud and clear message to officials in New York City that they prefer it as a deemed holiday, but unfortunately till that happens, it’s unlikely to become one, despite its popularity.

In a statement to The American Bazaar, Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) praised de Blasio for adding the Muslim holidays while voicing support for the addition of Diwali and the Lunar New Year: “I also renew my call to make Diwali a school holiday as well, and I hope that will happen soon. The time has come for our school system to recognize all these important holidays, just as it rightly does for holidays of other cultures and ethnicities.”

Recognizing the Lunar New Year will not be happening in the near future though, reports Chalkbeat.

On Wednesday, de Blasio also promised to close schools in recognition of Chinese Lunar New Year, but said it wouldn’t happen this year.

“I am going to keep working on that with the chancellor,” de Blasio said.

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