Muslim students launch complaints against Catholic university’s Christmas traditions

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Loyola University in Chicago is sponsored by the Catholic church, but Muslim students who attend the Chicago college are complaining that Islamic holidays, such as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, are all but forgotten in the glow of sectarian Christmas lights and holiday decorations.

Sajedah Al-khzaleh attends the school and made her feelings known in a recent column she wrote for the Loyola Phoenix, titled, “Religious Holidays Aren’t Represented Equally on Campus.”

In the op-ed, Al-khzaleh complains that the school focuses on Catholic traditions while those of other faiths are downplayed. She notes that the private Jesuit university, founded in 1870, should do more to make international students feel recognized.

The university, described as one of the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic universities, and the only one located in Chicago, has a total enrollment of 16,673, The muslim op-ed admits that the school is about 60 percent Catholic, but says the estimated 800 Muslim students at Loyola aren’t getting equal representation.

“Although Loyola fosters a space for non-Christian religions to practice their faith — such as in the Damen Student Center’s second floor of Ministry Offices for Muslim, Hindu and Jewish students — there is a lack of public festivity compared to Christmas, such as decorations and activities of other religions’ holidays the entire student body could be part of,” she wrote.

Originally reported by The Blaze on Wednesday, the disgruntled student went on to interview Sajid Ahmed, a leader with the Student Muslim Association:

“Eid [at Loyola] is a bit dampened just because you have to go about your normal routine along with Eid,” Mr. Ahmed said. “At home it’d be a big family thing, dress up and go to the mosque. We’d spend the day together and celebrate … compared to that, college Eid has been less.”

Bryan Goodwin, associate director of the student complex, defended the school’s history of honoring its Jesuit heritage while also showing respect for its student body as a whole.

With other religions in mind, Goodwin said the university tries to be as general as possible with its decorations, including banners that say “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.”

Goodwin said they’d be willing to incorporate as many religions during this holiday season and even during individual times, if those religious groups requested it.

“We feel that we do a good job at the student center of allowing other faiths to [join the holiday season],” Goodwin said. “We pride ourselves on wanting to make sure we’re aware. We always lend ourselves the conversation.”

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