New bill will fight to recognize Muslim holidays in Philadelphia
City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. plans to introduce a bill Thursday that would make two official Muslim holidays in Philadelphia.
Jones said it is an issue of providing the same “holiday access” that both the city’s workforce and public schools provide to other religions.
“Our children should not feel marginalized when they go to school. Our workers in the city of Philadelphia shouldn’t be put upon and victimized for expressing their religious faith on the eid holiday,” Jones said in a video statement.
The two holidays coincide with the lunar-based Islamic (or Hijri) calendar, which is about 11 days shorter than the Christian (also known as the Western or Gregorian) calendar. This means that the holidays would fall on different days each year.
Eid al-Adha, which means “festival of the sacrifice” in Arabic, falls on the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar and lasts about four days. Many Muslims explain it as “Christmas for Muslims.”
Eid al-Fitr follows the Islamic month of Ramadan, in which many Muslims observe a strict fast between sunrise and sunset. Both Eids are celebrated with large communal gatherings, food, prayer, and acts of charity for the less fortunate.
Jones’ bill comes with the support of the Philadelphia Eid Coalition — a group dedicated to implementing these two major holidays on the official City of Philadelphia calendar and the Philadelphia Public School’s academic calendar for 2016.
The Eid Coalition says that there are 400,000 Muslims in Philadelphia. Unofficial estimates put the population around 200,000, about 85 percent of which is African American.