Councilman Says Stay Home for Muslim Holiday

MOCO Vox, September 23, 2013

Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal will join the Equality 4 Eid Coalition and community leaders at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, in Rockville as they urge Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) staff and students—Muslim and non-Muslim—to stay home from school on Tuesday, Oct. 15, to help celebrate the holiday Eid al-Adha in solidarity with their Muslim friends.

The rally is part of the efforts of the Equality 4 Eid Coalition to answer the Montgomery County Board of Education, which has stated it needed evidence of student and staff absences that would impact the delivery of instruction before it could evaluate whether schools should be closed to honor the Muslim religious holiday.

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There are two major holidays on the Muslim calendar. Eid al-Fitr is a celebration to mark the end of the month of Ramadan. Over the next three years, Eid al-Fitr will fall in summer, when schools are closed. Eid al-Adha, which marks the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, will falls on autumn dates over the next three years.

“Currently, the thousands of Muslim MCPS staff members and students have to choose between their education and observing their religious practices,” said Councilmember Leventhal, who chairs the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee. “They either skip school to celebrate Eids or they skip their religious observances to attend school. Many choose to do the latter. However, this is not a choice that our Christian and Jewish neighbors face on their holidays. I intend to keep my own son home from school on Oct. 15 as a sign of solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters and I urge parents from all religious and spiritual backgrounds to do the same.”

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The coalition said that it has found at least six school districts in the U.S. that close for the Muslim holiday. They are Burlington, Vt., Cambridge, Mass., Dearborn, Mi.; Paterson, N.J.; Skokie, Ill.; and Trenton, N.J.

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