Saqib Ali

Christmas, Yom Kippur, Easter booted after Eid protest


The Muslim parents' demand was simple. If the school's annual schedule includes days off for Christmas and Rosh Hashanah, then they wanted their holy days added, too. So, the school board in Montgomery County, Maryland, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., voted to eliminate all references to any religious holidays on the school's official website, student handbooks and school-year calendars.

"Beginning in the 2015-16 school year," reports Fox News, "that includes Christmas and Easter, as well as Jewish holidays like Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah."

It looks like another case of Christmas needing to be rescued  from today's culture wars -- the focus of film and TV star Kirk Cameron's new movie, "Saving Christmas," scheduled for release in selected theaters on November 14.

"The vote came after a recommendation by schools Superintendent Joshua Starr," reports Fox, "in response to a request from Muslim community leaders to give equal billing to their holy day of Eid al-Adha."

The schools will still be closed on longtime traditional holidays due to the significant number of staff and student absences on those days, school officials said.

But the closings would not be due to any religious observance.

The Washington Post reported that Muslim community leaders had urged families to keep students home on Eid al-Adha, hoping that the number of absentees would persuade the school board to close the schools on that day. However, the Post reported that the number of absences were only slightly higher than on a typical school day.

Eid al-Adha honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham of the Old Testament) to sacrifice his promised son as an act of submission to God's command.

"Many Muslim families gathered Tuesday morning before the school board meeting, some carrying signs saying 'Because our children matter too,'" reported Fox. "However, many Muslims expressed dismay at the board's ultimate decision."

"By stripping the names Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they have alienated other communities now, and we are no closer to equality,"  Saqib Ali, a former Maryland state delegate and co-chair of the Equality for Eid Coalition, told the Post. "It’s a pretty drastic step, and they did it without any public notification."

Future school calendars will now list the students' Christmas vacation as "winter break", the Easter vacation as "spring break." Days like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur would simply be marked "no school for students and teachers."