NYC To Observe 2 Muslim Holidays By Closing Schools

New York City Adds 2 Muslim Holy Days to Public School Calendar

New York will become the nation’s first major metropolis to close its public schools in observance of the two most sacred Muslim holy days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday, a watershed moment for a group that has endured suspicion and hostility since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Several municipalities across the country — including in Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey — have moved in recent years to include the holy days, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, in their school calendars. But New York City, with its 1.1 millionschoolchildren, dwarfs the others in its size and symbolism.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat who has pledged a more tolerant and inclusive city, described the policy that begins in the coming school year as a simple “matter of fairness.” But the announcement was all the more striking for its timing, as Muslim-Americans face fresh scrutiny in the wake of terrorist attacks in Europe and new violence in the Middle East.

Muslim school holiday recognition unlikely in Canada

Canada isn't "anywhere near that point," says Mihad Fahmy. She's the head of the National Council of Canadian Muslims' human rights committee and a labour and human rights lawyer.

Canada's human rights laws do not allow schools to penalize students for missing class to observe certain religious holidays. Students can ask for permission to be absent from school for their religion's holy days, including Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr for Muslims.

Naik, the woman behind the Peel District School Board's multi-faith calendar, says she believes choosing to recognize one religious group's holy days outside of Canada's statutory holidays for school closure can fragment a community.

"If we were ever, ever going to move to approving holy days in our statutory leave, then we would have to do all religious diversity, not just one group — no matter how large a number," she says.

Whether or not any Canadian schools choose to follow New York City's example, Shirazi is excited for the increased awareness about religious accommodation at educational institutions. Even though Canada has policies in place for religious accommodation, policymakers need to be revisit their guidelines to match the realities on the ground.

"This is not ... like a dusty library book that you finish and you put away. This is like a living organism — it shifts, it changes," he says.


Muslim school holiday recognition unlikely in Canada - Canada - CBC News

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