Posted on November 7, 2011

Cambridge Schools Will Have Monday Off to Mark Muslim Holy Day

Brock Parker, Boston, November 4, 2011

Public school students in Cambridge will get a day off Monday in what officials believe will be the first time in the state that a school district has scheduled a holiday to recognize an Islamic holy day.

The district-wide school holiday will recognize Eid Al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, and was approved by the Cambridge School Committee last year.

“We’re ecstatic about this,” said Atif Harden, the interim executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. “This is the first year that it’s going to occur. This sort of recognition of our existence and the population we have, we feel very good about.”


Cambridge schools already close for some Christian and Jewish holidays, and Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Young said the school district has a significant number of Muslim students.


Elsewhere, other school systems including Dearborn, Mich. and Burlington, Vt., already close for at least one Muslim holiday each year.

But Marc McGovern, a member of the Cambridge School Committee who pushed for the Muslim holiday, speculated that one reason other school districts in Massachusetts haven’t approved a day off for Islamic holy days may be because their Muslim student populations aren’t big enough for the holiday to make sense.

McGovern said officials may also be reluctant to stir up the type of controversy Cambridge did when it approved the day off. {snip}

McGovern said he received criticism and a couple of threats last year from places around the country after the School Committee approved the Muslim holiday.