(Photo: New York City skyline, December 12, 2009/Jessica Rinaldi)
Muslim parents, students and civic groups are campaigning to add two of their religious holidays to the New York City public school calendar, pinning their hopes on state lawmakers after failing to win over Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the idea. Supporters say there are more than 100,000 Muslim students in the public schools, or about 12 percent of the enrollment.
Putting Eid Ul-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of Ramadan, and Eid Ul-Adha, celebrating the end of
the haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, on the list of official school holidays will help ease suspicion and reduce anti-Muslim sentiment nearly a decade after the September 11 attacks, they say.
The school calendar currently has 13 observed holidays, including Jewish ones such as Rosh Hashana and Christian holidays such as Good Friday, but no Muslim holidays. Bloomberg has rejected the proposal, arguing city students cannot afford more days off. Just four in 10 students graduate on time and one in 10 drops out, according to statistics.
Supporters now are looking to a bill that calls for instituting the Muslim holidays as days off in city schools. It is pending in the state Senate and Assembly and if it becomes law, it would supersede Bloomberg’s decision despite his control of New York City schools.