A school district on Long Island stood tall amid pressure from Muslim advocacy groups last week when it decided not to add two Islamic-based holidays to the school calendar.
The Hewlett-Woodmere School District originally decided to include the holidays but then changed course after reconsidering the impact such a move would have on the community.
The Board of Education of Hewlett-Woodmere voted unanimously last week to not add the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to the calendar, even though administrators had requested that schools be closed on the two days.
Eid ul-Fitr is a celebration that comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and is celebrated by feasting with family and presents for children. Eid ul-Adha, marks the end of the Hajj, or the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
After hearing four hours of public comments at a school board meeting, the board rendered it’s decision claiming: “The common reason for discomfort in adding the Eid holidays was a lack of confidence in having a strong enough secular purpose for adding the holiday.”
According to Patch.com, a text message was sent out across the district on Jan. 16, urging residents to come to the meeting to stop the Islamic holidays from being added to the calendar. The message said that adding the holidays would bring more religious Muslims to the area which would drive down property values, “because no decent person would want to buy a house next to that.”
The local chapter for the COUNCIL OF AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS (CAIR), issued the following statement:
“It’s disgraceful that these anti-Muslim advocates celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by organizing in support of housing segregation. Our school calendars should reflect the diversity and inclusionary spirit of our state. We applaud those board members who condemned anti-Muslim harassment, but the Hewlett-Woodmere Board of Education must take this opportunity to stand with Muslim parents and students by recognizing the Eid holidays.”