Two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, are being added to a school district’s calendar, and the mayor is hoping to adopt the holidays for city workers as well. A few smaller school districts across the country have added the holidays already, and New York City became the first major city to take the step last year.
Now the Philadelphia School District will be phasing in the holidays, beginning with the 2016-2017 term, where it will be optional, and the next year, the holidays will be treated like any other holiday.
One official said the school district’s decision will “validate our young Muslim students. It will allow them to know that they matter, their faith matters, and that there is a place in society for them,” she said. “Never again will they have to choose between education and religion.”
The city of Philadelphia has an estimated 200,000 Muslims. City councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., who is Muslim, has introduced a resolution for the city to adopt the holidays as well, and the mayor has created a task force to “determine how the change can be accomplished.”
CAIR, an Islamic advocacy group, called the announcement significant, and spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said, “These are like rays of light in the darkness,” alleging a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments fueled in part by the comments of presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Indicating this could lead to much more, Mayor Kenney said the task force’s job “first and foremost” will be to focus on the holidays but that “the focus could then broaden.” “We have to take into account how society sometimes ostracizes and eliminates people from the mainstream because of extraneous kind of reasons,” Kenney said.
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