Maryland School District Denies Muslim Holiday

Do equality and secularism go hand in hand when it comes to holidays for a diverse student body?

School System

Instead of religious holidays like Christmas vacation, school calendars will be marked with generic holidays such as winter break in Montgomery County, Maryland's public schools.

School holidays are often centered around Christian and Jewish holidays, and for a while now, the Muslim community pushed for their religious holidays to be considered in the school calendar. Led by seven co-chairs, the Muslims formed a community-based coalition, Equality For Eid, seeking equality for Muslims in the county’s public school system. 

According to The Washington Post, in 2013, the Muslim students were kept home during their Eid holidays, hoping that their absence would influence their case for an official holiday.  But it didn’t work.

But school district officials must have noticed somewhat as they've now done away with all religious holidays, even if in name only.

So does it make people happy?

“By stripping the names Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they have alienated other communities now, and we are no closer to equality,” said Saqib Ali, one of the chairs on Equality For Eid. "Simply saying we're not going to call this Christmas, and we're not going to call this Yom Kippur, and still closing the schools, that's not equality.”

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Zainab Chaudry, another co-chair, described the school board's move as akin to the Grinch stole Christmas – but pointed out that they would rather do that than include a Muslim holiday.

The area also has a large Jewish population – some of who do not seem to be thrilled about the news either:

In all actuality – this change is simply a formal acknowledgement of the Muslim community’s demands. They had noticed that in the coming year Yom Kippur and Eid-Ul-Adha would overlap and simply wanted their religious holiday included on the calendar. Practically speaking, none of the school holidays have really changed.

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