Bash Pharoan sees his long-running campaign to close Baltimore County’s schools on Muslim holidays as a demand for fairness: If schools are shut down on Yom Kippur and Christmas Day, they also should be closed on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

He first advanced this idea a decade ago, and despite significant obstacles – including state law that prohibits schools from closing solely for religious reasons – he has not backed off. In his latest push, Pharoan e-mailed about 250 area Muslims to encourage them to attend tomorrow’s county school board meeting.

He said the show of solidarity would be an appeal to Superintendent Joe A. Hairston, who is expected to propose a 2008-2009 calendar at the board’s May 8 meeting. The board is expected to vote in June on the calendar.

“I’m asking our community to be visible, to have courage,” Pharoan, president of the Baltimore chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said in an interview last week. “If, as a community, we wait until next month when the superintendent proposes a calendar without the holiday, it’s already too late and the decision will already have been made.”


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