Philly schools plan to recognize two Muslim holidays
Mayor Jim Kenney, Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., and Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite announced yesterday an effort to add two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, to the official school district calendar. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated after the month-long observance of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha, celebrated at the conclusion of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Members of the Philadelphia Muslim community, the Philadelphia EID Coalition, and city officials joined together in what some considered to be a “great moment” for the city.
“Philadelphia’s history is based on being a place where religious freedom is part of its founding,” said Kenney. “Our city was built on the idea allowing you to be different in nationality and ethnicity. The city welcomes all to worship and practice faith of their culture or choosing. I’m excited to be able to announce an important next step for the 200,000 members of our city’s Islamic community and recognize Eid ul Fitr, celebrated after a month long observance of Ramadan and Eid ul Adha.”
Earlier this year, Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution calling for the city and the school district to recognize the Eid holidays.
The resolution was introduced by Jones who led a group of parents and students to the School Reform Commission (SRC), where they advocated the commission to follow the lead of New York and other cities in recognizing the holidays.
“This is important,” said Jones. “A lot of people felt like maybe this wasn’t the right time, national international politics being what it is. This was the perfect time to do it because where there is conflict there is communication and with communication there is at least the ability to have consensus and that is what happened here today.”
In order to allow students and staff to celebrate the Eids during the 2016-2017 calendar year, the school district will inform students, parents and staff about the current excused absences policy for students wishing to participate in the Eid celebrations.
For the 2017-2018 school year, and every subsequent year, the District will present the Eid holiday dates to the SRC for a vote to include it in the annual calendars.
A key leader in the effort to establish the Eids as official holidays is the Philadelphia EID Coalition, comprised of business, government, political and civic leaders that joined together in 2015 to support the recognition of the two Eids holidays.
“Today is a very exciting day for us all and it is because of your support that we have been able to accomplish such a great moment for the history of the Philadelphia Educational System,” Salima Suswell, member of the Philadelphia EID Coalition said. “At a time where so many are attempting to push our Muslim brothers and sisters away, we have a mayor in the city of Philadelphia that says not on my watch, not during my time and not while I am the mayor.”