Council Bill Would Urge Days Off For Two Muslim Holidays
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City Council members are calling on the state to give New York City children the day off from school on two Muslim holidays.
On Friday, the council will debate a resolution urging the state Legislature to pass a law declaring the Muslim holidays of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha to be observed holidays in the city’s public school system.
According to the resolution’s sponsor, Council Member Robert Jackson of Manhattan, the issue is a matter of fairness, as Muslim students make up a significant percentage of the public school population.
“You have 10% of the student population out of 1.1 million children, so over 100,000 students, who are Muslim,” Mr. Jackson said yesterday in an interview. “There was a situation about two or three years ago where they held a big exam on one of the highest holy days and parents had to make a choice: Do I send my kids in to take this exam or do we celebrate our religious holiday? That should not be the case. It doesn’t happen on Christmas, it doesn’t happen on Easter, it doesn’t happen on other major religious holidays.”
Bills that would give city schoolchildren the day off on the two holidays have stalled in the state Senate and Assembly, failing to get out of committee.
Mayor Bloomberg said earlier this year that he opposes creating new school holidays. There are too few school days, he said, adding that such a move could encourage other local religious communities to demand that their holidays be recognized, as well.
Mr. Jackson said yesterday that he does not believe that giving students the day off and extending the school year are mutually exclusive issues. “If they need to add more school days, then let’s add more school days,” he said. “No one is saying we can’t increase New York City’s school year.”