Council Votes for Two Muslim School Holidays

June 30, 2009

Author: Kirk Semple

Source: The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/nyregion/01muslim.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y

Spurred by a broad coalition of religious, labor and immigrant groups, the City Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Tuesday to add two of the most important Muslim holy days to the public schools’ holiday calendar.

But the vote, which was nonbinding, put the Council in conflict with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has the final say to designate the days off and has said he is resolutely opposed to the idea.

The mayor told reporters before the vote that not all religions could be accommodated on the holiday schedule, only those with “a very large number of kids who practice.”

“If you close the schools for every single holiday, there won’t be any school,” he said. “Educating our kids requires time in the classroom, and that’s the most important thing to us.”

The current school calendar recognizes major Christian and Jewish holy days like Christmas and Yom Kippur, but no Muslim holy days.

Mr. Bloomberg’s stance has irritated advocates of the measure, and some said he risked alienating many in New York’s fast-growing Muslim population as he seeks re-election in the fall.