(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/12/2014) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today expressed “disappointment” with the Montgomery County Public Schools' Board of Education's decision to remove reference to all religious holidays from the 2015-16 school calendar rather than accommodate CAIR and the Equality for Eid Coalition's request to grant Muslim holidays equal billing as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
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Witnesses who spoke in support of recognizing the Eid holiday at the packed hearing yesterday included County Councilmember George Leventhal, CAIR’s Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry, a Rabbi from Faith Community Working Group, Susan Kerin of Pax Christi Catholic Church, and many others. After listening to the testimonies, the board deliberated for than two hours before voting to remove all religious references from the 2015-16 school calendar.
In a statement, CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry said:
"We're very disappointed that the board would take such drastic measures to deny fair and equitable treatment for the county's Muslim population. The Muslim community has been struggling for years to obtain equality for the Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha holidays. There's no justice in robbing other faith communities of their holidays in order to deny Muslims equal accommodation. We believe yesterday’s decision doesn't solve the problem, as schools would still not be closed in observance of Muslim holidays unless they happen to coincidentally land on a weekend or other holiday."
[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.]
Chaudry added that the Muslim community plans to be part of the conversation as the board decides on holiday inclusion criteria in anticipation of future requests for dates to be added to school calendars.
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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CONTACT: CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry, firstname.lastname@example.org, 443-823-7816; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org