(BALTIMORE, MD, 11/9/17) -- The Maryland Outreach Department of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed news that the Baltimore County Public School's (BCPS ) Board of Education voted to keep county schools closed for Jewish holidays, and to give BCPS students the day off on Eid ul-Fitr 2019.
[NOTE: Eid ul-Fitr (EED-al-FITTER) marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan, 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.]
The school calendar was amended to shift one professional development day to June 5, on which the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr is expected to land. Classes are not held on professional development days.
The 9-3 vote followed Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's order that public schools in Maryland begin after Labor Day and end by June 15. The stipulation has forced some districts to compress their academic calendars. Other statewide school districts including Montgomery County are considering sacrificing religious holidays to meet the new guidelines.
"This is a small step forward for our sons and daughters whose need to take off religious holidays is equal to others," said Dr. Bashar Pharoan, a parent in Baltimore County who has long advocated for Eid equality. "Equality of holidays may lead to equality of opportunity."
"In an increasingly diverse county, this is good news for the county's substantial Muslim community that struggles to choose between children's education and celebrating religious holidays that land on a school day," said CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Dr. Zainab Chaudry.
A recent report by CAIR’s California office revealed that Muslim students are bullied at twice the rate as the national average.
Last year, CAIR welcomed the Howard County Board of Education's unanimous vote to keep schools closed on state mandated holidays and the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah on the 2016-17 academic calendar, and in addition also designate one day off each for Eid, Lunar New Year's Eve, and Diwali.
CAIR, which has long championed Eid equality in Maryland school districts that are home to many Muslims, urged the board to not re-open schools on Jewish holidays, but rather consider closing schools on other religious holidays including Eid.
CAIR offers a booklet, called "An Educator's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for Muslim students.
The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization urges community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report
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.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
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