Schools in New York, the biggest city in the U.S., might be about to implement shutdowns on certain Muslim holy days, as both mayoral candidates running for City Hall have said they support such a move.
A report in the New York Daily News says that Bill de Blasio, the Democrat, and Joe Lhota, his Republican opponent, believe both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha should be added to the holiday calendar along with other major religious observations, including Christmas, Good Friday and Rosh Hashanah.
De Blasio, who was speaking in Brooklyn at a campaign event, said the closings should be done out of respect for Islam. The report says an estimated 13% of New York's pupils are Muslim.
"The origins of this nation (are) people of many different faiths coming together," the report said, quoting the candidate. "That's why we have to respect Muslim faiths by providing the Eid school holidays for children in our school system."
Lhota agrees with the idea, the paper says. "We have a growing Muslim community in the city of New York, and their religion needs to be respected as all other religions are respected," he said, adding that the school calendar would make up for the additional two days off if the change is made.
The issue has arisen before in the city, the largest school district in the U.S., but no action has been taken to recognize the observances. For now, New York schools are closed for 13 days during the school year. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose third term is winding down, has opposed further days off.
However, in other parts of the nation with large Muslim populations, like Dearborn, Mich., some schools do account for Muslim holidays and close the classrooms. Massachusetts and Vermont contain districts that shut schools for some Muslim holidays, and the Washington, D.C., suburb of Montgomery County, Md., is seeing an effort underway to adopt a similar policy.