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CAIR-MD, E4E Coalition to Seek Equality for Muslim School Holidays

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CAIR-MD, E4E Coalition to Seek Equality for Muslim School Holidays
Muslim civil rights group says holiday equality is a civil rights issue

(ROCKVILLE, MD, 9/18/13) – On Monday, September 23, the Maryland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MD), in partnership with the “Equality for Eid” coalition, will hold a press conference in Rockville, Md., to encourage parents to keep their children home from school on the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Adha (EED-al-ODD-ha) without being penalized or marked “absent.â€

CAIR-MD: Coalition Wants Montgomery County Schools to Close on Muslim Holidays (Gazette)

WHAT: “Equality for Eid” Campaign Press Conference
WHEN: Monday, September 23rd, 3:30 P.M.
WHERE: Steps of Montgomery County Council Building, 100 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD, 20850
CONTACT: CAIR-MD Vice President Zainab Chaudry, (410) 971-6062, zchaudry@cair.com; CAIR-MD Civil Rights Director Azim Chowdhury, (301) 660-7640, achowdhury@cair.com

This course of action is being taken because the coalition has been informed by School Superintendent Joshua Starr and the MCPS Board of Education that “proof is needed that a significant number of Montgomery County residents are affected” by public schools being in session during the Muslim holidays. This condition is being imposed despite the fact that no such criteria have been used in the past in determining the addition of any other religious holidays to the school calendar.

The Muslim community has been struggling for well over a decade to have this measure approved as its population in a diverse county continues to grow. 

“Parents should not be forced to choose between religious observance or the education of their children simply because they're of a different faith,†said CAIR-MD Vice President Zainab Chaudry. “We want to emphasize that Montgomery County American Muslims don't seek special treatment, but rather equal treatment. This is a civil rights issue.”

Many students seek to maintain a perfect attendance record and being marked absent, albeit excused, for Eid holidays harms that effort.

Eid ul-Adha (“festival of the sacrifice”) comes near the end of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, and is expected to occur on October 15. County schools currently close for the religious holidays of Christmas, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Passover. Muslim parents are seeking similar closings for the two major Islamic holidays of Eid ul-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr (EED-al-FITTER), or “feast of fast breaking,†marking the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan.

It is important to note that only one holiday over the next few years requires accommodation by MCPS Board of Education, as the other holidays all fall either during the summer months or on a weekend. 

SEE: Muslims in Maryland Petition Schools to Close on Eid, Like on Christmas, Yom Kippur

Spearheaded by CAIR-MD, the E4E Campaign is an initiative of Montgomery County community leaders who, with the support of County Councilmember George Leventhal, have been organizing to raise awareness and advocate for inclusion of the Eid holidays on the MCPS calendar.

SEE: Equality for Eid FAQ's

CAIR-MD Launches “Equality for Eid” Campaign for Muslim School Holidays

Last Sunday, CAIR-MD Vice-President Zainab Chaudry and Civil Rights Director Azim Chowdhury led an in-depth discussion about the campaign at the Muslim Community Center in Montgomery County, Md. Participants included Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal and Equality for Eid Co-Chairs Zaffer Mirza, Samira Hussein, Mimi Hassanein, Mumin Barre, and Saquib Ali.  

The community was briefed on the status and goals of the campaign and encouraged to sign an online petition at www.equality4eid.com. Muslims residing in Montgomery County were also urged to reach out to parents of different faiths to seek their support.

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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