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Islamic group pushes for recognition of holiday

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Published on: Thursday, September 26, 2013

By Donna Broadway

ROCKVILLE - On Oct. 15, 2013, the Maryland Chapter for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MD) is calling for Montgomery County Muslim residents to keep their children home for Eid al-Adha, which is the feast of sacrifice that commemorates Abraham’s obedience to God, as shown by his willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, for God, and God’s mercy in substituting a lamb.

The protest is in response to Dr. Joshua Starr and the Montgomery County Board of Education’s request that evidence is needed to prove student and staff absence will impact instruction significantly enough before considering a closing on the Muslim holidays.

“American Muslims in Montgomery County have been struggling for over a decade to get this initiative passed. As the size of the community grows and grows, more and more families struggle every year as they decide whether to send their kids to school or whether to keep them home,” said Zainab Chaundry, CAIR-MD vice president. “We want to emphasize we are not asking for special rights for Montgomery County Public School parents, students and teachers. We’re only asking for equal rights.”

Chaundry said that similar provisions were not placed on Jewish or Christian holidays. There are currently five religious holidays when Montgomery County public schools are closed, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Easter, Christmas and Good Friday. Although these schools are not closed on Muslim holidays, one of which, Eid al-Adha, falls during the calendar year for three years, students receive excused absences during the Eid holidays and extra time to make up tests and quizzes. In addition, the state of Maryland does not allow for standardized tests on the Muslim holidays.

Councilman George Levanthal (D-at-large), who is Jewish, spoke in support of the measure. Levanthal said he will be keeping his son at home on Eid al-Adha in support of the protest.

“The conflict that is posed when Eid is on a school day is a significant conflict and it is a conflict that is not experienced by Christians or by Jews,” Levanthal said. “I am a person of faith, so if school was in session on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, it would be a conflict because of course I don’t want my children to miss important lectures by their teachers and I don’t want their attendance record to suffer, but that’s not a conflict for my family because many years ago the school system decided to close on Easter, on Christmas and on Rosh Hashanah.”

Dana Tofig, spokesman for MCPS, said because of a ruling by the State Board of Education in 2005, schools are not allowed to close for religious reasons, and instead there must be an operational reason, such as high absenteeism related to the holiday.

"For religious holidays that we are not closed on, students are allowed to take an excused absence. Tests are not to be given on these days and students must be given ample opportunity to make up any work they miss.” Tofig said. 

According to statistics obtained from MCPS, the student absentee rate for Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha for 2010, 2011 and 2012 was 5.56 percent and the staff absentee rate was 6.5 percent. The normal absentee rate for a Friday is 5-6 percent for students and 7.8 percent for staff.

There are currently six school districts in the U.S. that close for Eid, including Burlington, Vt.; Cambridge, Mass.; Dearbon, Mich.; Patterson, N.J.; Skokie, Ill.; and Trenton, N.J. CAIR-MD has launched a petition called Equality for Eid at

If passed, the initiative would appear in the 2014-2015 school year. Eid al-Adha will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2015.

Reader Comments - 2 Total

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Posted By: Iftikhar Ahmad On: 9/28/2013

Title: Muslim Schools

A civilisation is measured not by the rights it grants its majority but the privileges it allows its minorities. Muslim families are as entitled as any other religious group to schools that nurture their children's faith. Muslim pupils should be educated in Muslim schools because the current system is marginalising them. Teaching Muslim children in a Muslim school would remove the "problem of them being exposed" to values that conflict with Islamic faith. Muslim pupils are disadvantaged and marginalised in the city's state schools because the cultural heritage of the curriculum is "European and Christian".

Muslim schools provide an education in accordance with the Muslim beliefs and values, such as providing single-sex schooling after puberty. They are thus a response to the danger of absorption into the dominant culture.

The number of Muslim children is on the increase in Bradford state and church schools. There are lot of schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies for proper education. British history from early periods to present day should be taught in all schools. Islamic history from the early period to present day should be part and parcel of the National Curriculum. I think to be fair the Arabic and Persian contributions to the world in medicine, mathematics and other sciences plus their involvement in world affairs should be taught.

The demand for state funded Muslim schools is in accordance with the law of the land. Muslims are not asking for any favour. I set up the first Muslim school in London in 1981 and now there are 188 Muslim schools and only 12 are state funded. I would like to see each and every Muslim child in a state funded Muslim schools and I hope one day my dream would come true. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental period. There are few schools for Hindu and Sikh communities. Now even Black community is thinking of setting up their own state funded schools for their own children with black teachers.

You better teach your children in your own schools and let migrant communities teach their children according to their needs and demands.British Establishment and society should concentrate on the evils of their own society and stop trying to change the way of life of Muslims. Muslim community does not want to integrate with the British society, indulging in incivility, anti-social behaviour, drug and knife culture, binge drinking, teenage pregnancies and abortion.

A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. He/she is well versed in standard English, Arabic, Urdu and other community languages so that they do not find themselves cut off from their cultural heritage and are able to enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry.
London School of Islamics Trust

Posted By: El Cid On: 9/26/2013

Title: Heck No

The terror supporters over at CAIR just don't get it.
Kenya much?


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