(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/28/14) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, yesterday provided testimony at the Montgomery County Public Schools' Board of Education meeting in Rockville, Md., seeking inclusion of the Muslim "Eid" holidays on the public school calendar.
CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager and Equality for Eid Coalition Co-Chair Zainab Chaudry spoke on behalf of the Montgomery County Muslim community, advising MCPS Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr and board members on the importance of fairness and equality in their decision to recognize religious holidays in public schools.
[NOTE: Eid ul-Fitr (EED-al-FITTER), or "feast of fast breaking," marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan and is the first of the two major Muslim holidays. The second holiday, Eid ul-Adha (EED-al-ODD-ha), comes near the end of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.]
Members of the Montgomery County Muslim community -- who account for up to 10 percent of the county's population -- have been struggling for more than a decade to have the Eid holidays of Eid ul-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr be recognized by the school board, but their efforts have met with resistance.
In 2013, CAIR, at the behest of local Muslim leaders, led efforts to form the Equality for Eid Coalition -- a grassroots initiative that has launched an organized campaign to raise awareness and support for this cause. Thousands of signatures, letters, and phone calls by county residents supporting the movement have so far been largely ignored.
Zainab Chaudry's testimony read in part:
"Federal law grants Americans the right to equal and fair treatment and reasonable religious accommodation in the school place regardless of faith. Montgomery County is known to pride itself on its diversity and inclusion. This makes it even more troubling that MCPS Board of Education continues to treat American Muslims differently than their Jewish and Christian friends and neighbors."
"This is an effort to secure equal rights," said Chaudry. "The criteria used by the board in making their decision should be no different than the criteria used to determine inclusion of Christian and Jewish holidays. When such a significant portion of the county observes a religious holiday, the Board should make every effort to accommodate that community's religious needs."
Chaudry was joined by other witnesses -- including several MCPS high school students of diverse faiths and ethnicities -- who also appeared Monday evening to testify in front of the board for inclusion of the Eid holiday. The board is scheduled to vote on the 2015-16 school calendar on November 11, 2014. CAIR is urging Maryland residents to contact the board and ask them to recognize the Eid holidays in Montgomery County Public Schools.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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