An official petition to add Muslim and Hindu festivals to British bank (public) holidays has attracted over 100,000 signatures, meaning that it can now be debated at the House of Commons. If the proposal is passed it will put days like Eid on a similar footing to Easter and Christmas.
The proposal has proved hugely popular in Britain’s multi-cultural communities, far more popular than proposals to mark St George’s Day, which is England’s patron’s saints day. The petition reads: “I believe that, given the number of Muslims and Hindus in this country it is only fair we allow them to have the most important days in their faiths recognised in law.
Vinod Popat, chairman of The British Hindu Voice, told the Sunday Express: “I don’t think it is a very good idea. How many festivals are there for other religions. Should they all be marked with a public holiday?”
Suleman Nagdi, of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicester, told the paper: “Any move to recognise other faiths is a good thing but I do not think there should be a public holiday.”
The petition is likely to add to concerns that traditional British ceremonies are being overshadowed. In the 1990’s Birmingham City Council abolished Christmas in favour of “Winterval”. They claimed that non-Christians would be offended by the traditional holiday.
In the end the City Council backed down amidst protests from a wide section of the community – reinstating Christmas.
Many Conservatives remain concerned that similar plans may be adopted in the future, not least because Sunday trading laws have meant that many traditional Christian holidays are different from normal working days.