New Jersey Student Petitions Board of Education to Recognize Muslim Holidays


A New Jersey student distributed a petition to her local board of education requesting the school district recognize two major Muslim holidays with school closures.

Kaity Assaf, a student at Clifton High School collected over 500 signatures from “families, CHS students, and teachers from School 11,” reports

“[Islam] is considered the second largest religion after Christianity,” said Assaf. “Eid comes twice per year. The first is Eid al-Ftir, which comes after Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha.”

Assaf added the New Jersey school districts of Paterson and Trenton have both recognized Muslim holidays with school closures.

In March of 2015, Commissioner Michael Evans said there could be a need to further adjust the school calendar with the addition of new holidays.

While teachers are often asked to be “sensitive” to various religious observance days by not scheduling tests, Assaf said this arrangement has not always allowed Muslim students to take an “excused” religious holiday when a test is scheduled.

Commissioner Tafari Anderson observed it is difficult to close schools for all the holidays of every religious group individually, and proposed a designated week commemorating the various faiths as an alternative. With an unknown number of snow days to consider, as more school closure holidays are added to the calendar, graduation dates are moving further toward the month of July.

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims are the fastest growing religious denomination in the world. Pew concludes the population of Muslims will increase faster than the world’s population as a whole, with a growth rate of 73% between 2010 and 2050, compared to the increase in the world’s population by 35%.

“By 2050, Muslims will be nearly as numerous as Christians, who are projected to remain the world’s largest religious group at 31.4% of the global population,” Pew reports.

Additionally, by 2050, Muslims are projected to make up 2.1% of the United States population, surpassing the population of Jews.

Assaf said it is a matter of having the “right” to have two Muslim holidays acknowledged publicly with school closures, adding that she plans to bring additional petition signatures to the next board of education meeting on January 6.


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