Around one million New York City public schools students will now observe two Muslim holidays, officials announced Wednesday, making the nation’s biggest district one of the few to put Islamic holy days on its calendar.
Under the new change announced by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and city schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, there will be no class for the holidays Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, starting next September 24 and Eid al-Fitr – a festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan – which will be a holiday for those attending summer school starting in 2016.
“This is a common-sense change,” de Blasio said Wednesday as reported by CNN News “and one that recognizes our growing Muslim community and honors its contributions to our city.”
While it’s not known exactly how many of the one million New York students are Muslim, City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito said that almost 1 million of the more 8 million people in the city’s five boroughs practice Islam and a 2009 Columbia University study found that roughly 10% of New York City public school students are Muslim.
The decision didn’t come as a surprise to many, given de Blasio’s campaign pledge to alter the school calendar with Muslim families in mind.
“Muslim students and their families who observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha shouldn’t have to choose between an instructional day and their religious obligations,” said Farina. “This new addition will also enable a teachable moment in the classroom for our students to learn about religious tolerance and the societal contributions of various cultures.”
New York City joins several other school districts in other states that similarly observe Muslim holidays including New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont, according to a news release from Farina’s office.
Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha join other religious holidays already on New York public schools calendar such as Good Friday, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
1 Million New York Students To Observe 2 Muslim Holidays