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Muslims in Montgomery County, Md., are petitioning local school officials to add two Islamic holidays that vary from year to year to the school calendar, and if needed, to shorten the “winter break” to make up for the days off.

“There is no need for any MCPS students to miss classroom instruction time if schools were to close for Eid holidays,” their petition argues. “There is a state law that mandates at least 180 classroom instruction days per year. That won’t change. If schools were to close on Eid holidays the missed days could easily be made up by slightly shortening the lengthy winter or summer breaks.

“Alternatively any of the many pre-existing school closings could be moved to coincide with Eid holidays,” the petition argues.

The Muslims want schools to close on Islamic holidays because they observe the Christian holidays of Easter and Christmas, and the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The dates of Muslim holidays vary because they are based on the Islamic calendar.

The Muslims argue that the county schools already close on “Christmas, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover.”

The school calendar, however, notes that Yom Kippur is on a Saturday, and Passover is not mentioned.

Nevertheless, they want recognition of Eid al-Fitr, to mark the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, marking a pilgrimage to Mecca.

“Currently the thousands of Muslim MCPS staff and students have to choose between their education and observing their religious practices,” the coalition argues. “This is not a choice that our Christian and Jewish neighbors face on their holidays.”

According to a report in the local Gazette, the sponsor of the move is the Maryland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

The Muslim coalition said other school districts that acknowledge their holidays include Burlington, Vt.; Cambridge, Mass.; Dearborn, Mich.; Skokie, Ill.; and Paterson and Trenton, N.J.

The chief operating officer of the district, Larry Bowers, however, points out that state law now allows districts to close only for secular purposes, reports Pamela Geller in her Atlas Shrugs blog.

The report noted the system already recognizes both Muslim holidays by declaring them non-testing days and giving Muslim students excused absences.

“Hamas-CAIR,” Geller commented, “is on the Islamic supremacist march in Maryland.”

“Latest front is the Montgomery County public schools,” she wrote. “They want them closed on Muslim holidays (does that include 9/11)? Of course, they frame this as a civil rights issue. 9/11 is a civil rights issue. I expect Zawahiri to frame Islam’s war on the West as a civil rights issue as well. There is nothing civil about the exploitation of the civil rights issue.

“I couldn’t help but chuckle at the name of the group, ‘Equality for Eid Coalition.’ Considering that there is no equality under the Shariah, it is particularly contemptible. Under the Shariah, non-Muslims are denied basic human rights and forced to live as sub-humans or dhimmis,” she said.

Should public schools close for Islamic holidays?

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