Muslims Erupt As School Board Refuses To Shut School For Islamic Holiday

NBC New York
NBC New York

Muslim parents recently erupted when the Jersey City school board announced it would not suddenly cancel classes for all students to mark Islam’s Eid al-Adha holiday, due Sept. 24.

The Muslim parents loudly protested even though the board said students “can continue to take days off for religious purposes without penalty,” including Sept. 24. But the parents wanted the state to accept their religious event, and to impose their holiday on other students.

One Muslim woman who attended the September 17 meeting said, “‘We’re no longer the minority, that’s clear from tonight. We’re going to be the majority soon.”

According to Daily Mail, the Jersey City school board had “originally proposed” cancelling classes on the 24 but “voted to keep Jersey City schools open so as not to cause disruptions for non-Muslim families.” Board member Gerald Lyons explained that deciding to close the school “on six days’ notice…[would] cause undue hardship on 5,000 to 10,000 people, who are going to have to scramble to [make arrangements] for…children” being at home instead of school.

When the board announced this decision “several of the Muslim parents and children screamed in rage and openly wept.” Eid al-Adha is one “of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims around the world to mark the end…of Ramadan.”

NBC New York reports that the board meeting turned on complaints by members of other religions–particularly members of the Jewish faith–who “felt they were being discriminated against because they weren’t getting their own school days off for holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.”  And hours into the school board meeting–when it became obvious that classes would not be closed on the 24–“Muslim community members nearly walked out in anger and frustration.”

Omar Abouelkhair said, “We feel alienated from the Board of Education, we feel alienated from this system.”

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